As your toddler ventures farther into the realm of solid foods, you may notice him starting to really enjoy fruit. Who can blame him? It’s sweet, colorful, and has all kinds of textures – but this deliciousness can backfire if your toddler starts rejecting any foods that aren’t as sweet as fruit. If this sounds familiar, you might be wondering how much fruit you should be serving your toddler every day.
Toddlers should normally eat around two servings of ½ to one cup (or 120 ml) of fruit every day. Fruits contain essential vitamins and minerals that help the body function, but they also have a lot of sugar.
Because of this, it’s probably best your toddler doesn’t eat more than one cup (or 240 ml) of fruit a day. This also encourages your toddler to get a wider array of nutrients from other kinds of food.
Fruit juice is a different story. It has a lot of sugar and calories, which means that over time, too much fruit juice can lead to obesity, tooth decay, and poor nutrition. More than that, when toddlers drink fruit juice instead of water, they’re less likely to be hungry for other, healthier foods. You’ll definitely want to limit your toddler’s consumption of fruit juice to protect against these effects.
You don’t have to completely cut off your toddler’s juice consumption, but it is important to set limits on juice, and putting off introducing juice into your child’s diet for as long as you can could help to make setting those limits easier. Instead, you can offer soft fruits, which tend to make up a significant amount of a toddler’s diet, anyway. Toddlers don’t need to drink juice, since juice doesn’t add any benefits children can’t get from just eating fruits, but does carry added risks. Once children are between one and six years old, they are recommended to have no more than six ounces of 100% fruit juice daily. If you do buy fruit juice for your child, it’s important to make sure it’s 100% juice without any added sugars, syrups, or fruit concentrate.
Final thoughts on fruit and fruit juice
Always try to serve juice in a cup rather than a bottle or sippy cup, since this helps protect your toddler’s teeth from the sugar that juice contains, and makes sure your child isn’t sipping at it throughout the day which can leave the sugars on the teeth for longer.
When serving fruit, it’s important to avoid any choking hazards by cutting up soft and ripe whole fruits into very small pieces. If you have a hard time getting your toddler to eat fruit, as with any other kind of food aversion, don’t force them or reward them with other foods – just present a variety of options and keep exposing them to different foods.
Fruit is a delicious food that your toddler can eat and enjoy, while getting essential vitamins and minerals. With all things, though, moderation is key. By helping your toddler stick to the recommended amounts of various food groups, you’re doing your part to support his growth and development.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jan 16 2016. Web.
“Feeding Your Toddler: Ages 1 to 3 Years.” ClevelandClinic. Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 2015. Web.
Katherine Zeratsky. “Fruit Juice FAQ.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mar 14 2014. Web.