My mother says that I am giving my four-year-old son too much juice. He drinks about 12 ounces daily. Is that too much?
That’s a reasonable amount of juice for Junior … if Junior happened to be twice his age. Based on his age, your son has overshot his daily juice consumption by at least twofold.
While juice can be a good source of potassium and vitamin C, and if fortified, even the mineral calcium, parents may be pouring up too much of a good thing, according the latest guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Children are the single largest gang of juice consumers in the United States (US), with kids under the age of 12 guzzling 28 percent of all the juice and juice drinks in the US, according to the AAP. No wonder the trash barrel is stacked high with juice boxes.
Excess juice consumption in infants can displace more nutritious breast milk or formula in the diet. In fact, the AAP advises parents to wait until an infant is at least 6 months old and can drink from a cup before offering juice.
Children shouldn’t be drinking juice all day long either. Continually exposing the teeth to a sugary juice bath could have you visiting the dentist more often than you would care to. The bacteria in the mouth have a field day fermenting all that sugar, causing a production of acid that can decay teeth. For the same reason, babies shouldn’t curl up with a bottle of juice in the crib at night, only to fall asleep with sugarcoated teeth. Instead, fruit juice should be a beverage choice at a meals or snack times, according to the AAP.
Large amounts of juice can also give junior diarrhea, gas, stomach pains, and bloating, the AAP warns. Not exactly at day at the park. While juice doesn’t contain any fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol — a dietary plus — it doesn’t contain much fiber either, as compared to whole fruit — a dietary negative. Beware of fruit juice drinks that can contain as little as 5 percent fruit juice. These fruit drinks aren’t in the same nutritional ballpark as 100 percent fruit juice.
When it comes to eating fruit, children 1 to 6 years old should have 2 servings daily.
Most older children and teenage girls should be consuming 3 servings, whereas teenage boys, should be shooting for 4 servings a day.
A serving is a medium piece of fruit or 3/4 cup of 100 percent fruit juice. The AAP suggests that half of these servings can be provided as fruit juice, with the other half coming from fiber-rich pieces of fruit.
The AAP recommends:
- Infants should not be given juice before 6 months of age, and they shouldn’t drink it from a bottle or a type of cup that would make it easy for them to be drinking it all day long. Infants should never be given juice at bedtime.
- For children 1 to 6 years old, fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces daily. In 7 to 18 year olds, it should be limited to 8 to 12 ounces a day.
- All juices should be pasteurized.
- Eating whole fruits should be encouraged.
You may want to pour up about half as much juice for Junior and slip in a piece of fruit elsewhere in his diet.