The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a recommendation about the amount of juice children should consume. In general, the recommendations might be less than what you are currently giving your child.
An AAP policy statement issued in 2001 (and reaffirmed in 2006) recommended no juice for children younger than 6 months of age. The same statement recommended 4-6 ounces of juice daily for children ages 1-6, and 8-12 ounces for children 7 or older.
Those recommendations have now been revised. Part of the reason for the change is due to considerable concern about increasing obesity rates and risks for dental caries (also known as cavities).
The new AAP recommendations is that fruit juice should not be provided – at all – to children under 1 year of age (unless there is a strong clinical basis for it as a means of managing constipation). The AAP recommends that water and cow’s milk are preferred as primary fluid sources for children after weaning.
The new recommendations also lower the amount of juice for older children. The juice given to older children should be 100% juice products. They do not recommend unpasteurized juices. Children ages 1-3 can have 4 ounces of 100% juice daily. Children ages 4-6 can have 4 to 6 ounces, and children 7 or older can have 8 ounces.
The AAP says there is no role for juice during the first year of life, and that expensive juice products designed specifically for infants are not of value. They note that when juice is served to toddlers, it should not be sipped throughout the day. It also should not be given as a means of soothing an upset child. The AAP states that juice is not useful for management of diarrheal diseases.
This doesn’t mean that the AAP is against fruit. In fact, they recommend that whole fruit be provided and encouraged for children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Obviously, they also recommend children who are not on those programs be offered whole fruit.
One big benefit of whole fruit (as opposed to fruit juice) is that whole fruit contains fiber. It also contains some protein. Starting at 6 months of age, infants can have mashed or pureed whole fruits. Toddlers (ages 1-4) need to have 1 cup of fruit a day.
Children ages 4-6 should be offered fruit that has a lot of fiber, such as apples, pears, berries, or oranges. They can also have juice that has fiber in it. Children 7 and older should get a total of 2 to 2 1/2 servings of fruit per day (but only 8 ounces of it can be from 100% fruit juice).
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