It seems convenient and relativity harmless.
You put some fruit juice in a sippy cup, maybe even dilute it with some water.
Then, you give it to your infant as they sit in a high chair or crawl around on the floor.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is telling parents to toss that sippy cup in the trash and to open up a milk carton instead of that fruit juice container.
The new guidelines were published today in the June edition of the journal Pediatrics.
It’s the first change in the AAP’s fruit juice recommendations since 2001.
Since that time, the organization has recommended no fruit juice for children under 6 months of age.
Now, the group is saying no fruit juice for children under 1 year of age and recommending strict limits on the sweet liquid for kids up until age 18.
“Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories,” Dr. Melvin B. Heyman, MPH, FAAP, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and a co-author of the guidelines, said in a statement. “Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1.”
What the guidelines say
The new AAP guidelines are pretty specific.
They recommend zero fruit juice for children under 1 year of age.
For toddlers ages 1 to 3, they suggest a maximum of four ounces of juice per day.
For kids 4 to 6, they recommend four to six ounces per day.
And for children 7 to 18, they say eight ounces per day.
They also recommend that no child of any age be given juice in a bottle or a sippy cup.
The reasons for the guidelines are simple.
The pediatricians say fruit juice has little nutritional value. It’s also high in calories and sugar. It also contains no fiber, unlike fresh fruit.
In addition, fruit juice can cause dental problems if a child consumes too much of it, or drinks it from a bottle or sippy cup.
“We know that excessive fruit juice can lead to excessive weight gain and tooth decay,” Dr. Steven A. Abrams, FAAP, chair of pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, and a co-author of the guidelines, said in a statement. “Pediatricians have a lot of information to share with families on how to provide the proper balance of fresh fruit within their child’s diet.”
Advice for parents
Katie Ferraro is the mother of five young children.
She’s also a registered dietitian, and assistant clinical professor at the University of San Diego and the University of California San Francisco.
She thinks the AAP guidelines are right on the money.
In particular, she likes how specific the recommendations are.
“There’s no gray area here for parents,” Ferraro told Healthline.
Ferraro agrees with the AAP that fruit juice lacks fiber and is loaded with sugar and calories.
She urges parents to have children eat fresh fruit such as oranges, bananas, and apples instead of drinking sweetened juice.
“We want people of all ages to eat their fruit, not drink it,” she said.
Ferraro said milk and water are much better choices to quench a child’s thirst.
She adds fruit juice can also fill up the small stomachs of children, making them less hungry at mealtimes.
“The juice can displace other healthy foods,” she said.
Ferraro also says drinking fruit juice can encourage small children to develop bad habits.
“It can cause them to develop an affinity for sweets,” she said.