New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in May recommend that juice should not be given to children until they reach the age of one, finding that juice “has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children.”
Under previous guidelines, parents were advised to wait until their children were six months of age before giving them juice.
“We couldn’t really see any reason why juice was still part of the potential recommendation for 6- to 12-month old kids,” said Dr. Steven Abrams, a lead author of the new report and the chairman of pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. “We recommend breastfeeding or formula in that age group, and there really isn’t any need or beneficial role for juice, so we kind of made that adjustment.”
The Academy also made changes to its recommendations for older children. Children ages one to three are advised to restrict their juice intake to four ounces a day (down from six ounces under the 2001 guidelines). Children ages four to six are still allowed six ounces a day. Children ages six to 18 are advised to only drink eight ounces a day, down from 12.
It also recommends getting rid of that ubiquitous sippy cup or bottle, since keeping juice in close contact with the teeth can cause tooth decay and lead to overconsumption.
Despite the changes, the Academy still states that juice can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet for children older than one. The problem starts when too much of it enters the diet. Too much juice intake can lead to obesity, tooth decay, and a greater likelihood of soda intake as children age.
But, whenever possible, children should reach for whole fruit. Whole fruit, while still containing some natural sugar, has less than juice. It also has more fiber, which leads to feeling fuller. A half cup of sliced apples has only 5.5 grams of sugar as opposed to the