When and How to Introduce Juice to Your Baby

Medically reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine on June 10, 2016Written by Diana Wells on June 10, 2016
Baby juice

As your baby grows, there are a lot of firsts you’ll witness. There are also some changes that parents need to initiate. Moving your baby from breast milk or formula to other foods and drinks is one of those changes.

It can be tricky for parents to know when to start offering their baby drinks like juice, and how to offer them. There are also different kinds available at the store, so it’s difficult to know which one to choose.

Here’s a look at what you should know about introducing your baby to fruit juice.

At what age should you introduce juice to your baby?

Babies don’t need to drink juice. But it’s a way to introduce new flavors to them. It also can provide them with a good dose of vitamin C.

The problem with juice is the amount of sugar it contains. That even applies to “all-natural” juices. That’s because fruit naturally contains sugar. Because of this, juice shouldn’t be given to your baby prior to 6 months.

After 6 months, it should only be given to babies who are able to sit up and drink from a cup.

How to give your baby juice

Juice should never be given in a bottle. Your baby shouldn’t be allowed to carry it around with them in their cup to drink throughout the day. That’s because of the damage it can cause their teeth from the high sugar content.

Some fruit can be acidic, too. This can be damaging to teeth.

The amount of juice you give your baby should be low, no more than 4 ounces per day. It’s also best to give juice during a regular mealtime when they are eating other foods. This will help reduce tooth decay.

Tips for introducing juice to your baby

The best time to give your baby juice is when they’re sitting up at a regular mealtimes. It should always be given in a cup and taken in a single sitting. If your child resists at first, that’s OK. Don’t force them to drink it. Wait for another time to try again. Eventually, your child will get curious enough to try it.

It may help to first water down the juice a little. Aim for 1 part juice to 10 parts water. At this age, your baby has only had a very limited introduction to food flavors. The flavor of juices might be a little overwhelming. Start with mostly water and a little juice.

As your baby adjusts, you can gradually add a little less water and a little more juice. Cutting the juice with water will also cut the calories, sugar, and the acidity found naturally in fruit juice.

When choosing a cup, you should choose one that has a lid that limits the flow of liquid. This helps guard against choking and spilling. Once they get the hang of a cup with a lid, you can eventually try giving them an open cup.

Types of juices to give to your baby

There are a lot of different juices and juice drinks in your grocery store aisle. This can make choosing the best one for your baby challenging. The most important thing in choosing a juice for your baby is reading the label.

Even if a juice claims to be 100 percent real fruit juice, it might contain other ingredients. Read the ingredients. The best juices are the ones with the shortest list of ingredients and ingredients you can pronounce.

Things to look for when choosing juice for your baby:

  • 100 percent pure fruit juice
  • 100 percent pasteurized
  • mild flavors (apple or pear are good ones to start with)
  • no sugar added
  • no juices labeled “cocktail,” “drink,” “beverage,” or “-ade”

Giving a baby juice for constipation relief

If your baby experiences constipation, 100 percent pure apple, prune, or pear juice can help. Constipation can sometimes occur when your baby starts eating some solid foods. But you should contact your baby’s physician if your baby is constipated. Ask your pediatrician about the proper amount of juice to give your baby and if it’s safe to give juice to your child.

If your baby has problems with constipation before 6 months of age, be sure to contact your pediatrician. They may have you give them a small amount of juice to help. But your doctor will be able to tell you the correct amount and the best method for giving it to a baby under the age of 6 months.

Precautions about giving your baby fruit juice

While fruit juice sounds healthy, it’s not as good as feeding them the actual fruit. Toddlers need two to three servings of fruit per day. Only one of these servings should come from juice.

There are some things to be cautious of if you add juice to your baby’s diet.

Too much juice can cause:

  • weight issues
  • diarrhea
  • less appetite for nutritious foods
  • diaper rash (usually caused by citrus)

Next steps

In general, babies don’t need to drink juice. But if you would like to use juice as a fruit serving, be sure to limit the amount your child consumes each day. It’s always good to talk to your pediatrician before changing their diet and follow their guidelines.

If you’re concerned with the sugar content, you can always dilute the juice with water. This will still give your baby a new flavor to explore while limiting the sugar, acid, and calories of undiluted juice.

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