Children below 1 year old should not get any juice, even 100% fruit juice, unless their doctor recommends it, according to recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The policy statement is to be published in the journal Pediatrics next month.
For children ages 1 to 3, maximum daily consumption of 100% fruit juice should be 4 ounces (a typical-sized juice box sold in the Philippines contains 250 mL or 8.45 ounces). For 4 to 6 years old, it’s a maximum of 4 to 6 ounces (max. of 177 mL) of 100% fruit juice, and it’s 8 ounces (237 mL) for those 7 to 18 years old.
Part of the appeal of ready-to-drink juice is that it’s single-serve, convenient and portable. Parents may even view juice as a health drink. However, you’re better off serving whole fruits that provide fiber and nutrients in your child’s diet, said the AAP. Fruit juice, on the other hand, has “minimal nutritional value,” and can lead to cavities and weight gain because it's high in sugar (yes, even if it is natural sugar).
“Juice may provide some vitamins -- such as vitamin C in orange juice and calcium and vitamin D in some fortified juice products -- but lacks the fiber and protein critical for the growth of children,” said Dr. Steven A. Abrams, co-author of the policy statement and incoming chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition.
Babies 6 months and below shouldn’t be getting anything other than breast milk or formula milk anyway as these already sufficiently satisfy fluid requirements for infants, according to the AAP. And then after weaning, water and cow’s milk should be the primary fluid given to children.
“The policy clarifies that there is virtually no role for juice during the first year of life and that expensive juice products designed specifically for infants are not of value,” said Dr. Abrams.
In addition, toddlers should not be given fruit juice in easily transportable containers, like bottles and sippy cups, read the policy. These only make it easier for kids to consume juice throughout the day. Juice shouldn’t be used to calm an upset child as well, or as treatment for diarrhea.
The recommendations also remind parents not to give juice before bed. “Be conscious of what is left in your child’s mouth while she sleeps. Any liquids that may contain sugar can cause demineralization of the teeth and eventually a cavity,” Dr. Georgina Roa-Remulla, director of the Philippine Pediatric Dental Society Inc. (PPDSI), told SmartParenting.com.ph.
And, the AAP isn’t the only one saying water is the way to go for kids. The AAP’s recent guidelines are in-line with sugar recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA). Released mid-last year, AHA said babies and tots below 2 years old should not get any added sugars in their diet including sugar-sweetened beverages. Kids ages 2 to 18 should get less than six teaspoons of added sugars daily.
Last March, the Department of Education released an order for school canteens to stop sellling processed fruit juice with added sugars and instant powdered fruit juice. 100% fruit juices will also be sold sparingly, specifically only once or twice a week, in small servings. Available in school canteens instead should be fresh fruits, unsweetened milk, unsweetened fresh buko water, and water.