It’s been a part of every parent’s arsenal for years, and it’s a failsafe solution to many a toddler meltdown, birthday party menu and school picnic: yep, we’re talking about the ubiquitous, occasionally life-saving, entity known as fruit juice. Historically, doctors actually recommended juice to kids as a source of water, an antidote to constipation and a good source of Vitamin C, but more recently, health professionals have cautioned against providing too much of the sweet stuff to children, linking high juice consumption to childhood obesity and dental decay.
It makes sense, right? After all, we already know that fruit juice is basically the pure-sugar cousin of whole fruit. Essentially, it’s the super-sweet liquid left over after the fibre (along with most of the nutritional value) in whole fruits is removed – and that’s why we’re so glad to see the American Academy of Pediatrics’s new guidelines directly addressing children’s juice consumption.
The specific recommendations, recently published in the journal Pediatrics, are finally catching up to what most of us have known for years: too much juice for kids is definitely not a good thing, and young babies shouldn’t be drinking juice at all.
For babies under one year, parents should “completely avoid” providing juice; after one year, up to four ounces of juice can be offered as part of a meal or snack, but not sipped throughout the day. For kids aged seven to 18, eight ounces of juice per day should be the maximum – and yes, you’re probably going to need to set some strong parameters around that.
And it’s not only the American medical establishment recommending that we cut way back on juice for children of all ages. “Babies and children don’t need to drink juice,” affirms the Canadian Paediatric Society on its website. “Too much juice, especially apple juice, can cause diarrhea and can fill up small stomachs, decreasing your baby’s appetite for nutritious foods. Too much juice can also cause early childhood tooth decay.”
Amen to all of it – not that we’re going to stop tossing a juice box or two into our stroller baskets every now and then. (It’s all about moderation, people!) What it all boils down to, really, is pretty simple: next time you’re about to dole out a cup of something fruity and sweet, remember that it’s healthier to just give your kid the whole fruit.