Once a child hits the one-year mark, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that it is safe to start introducing juice to children. And chances are, Baby will absolutely love it.
Look for 100% juice
The healthiest thing is to skip juice altogether, and just offer your child finely cut up pieces of whole fruit, but when buying juice, it’s healthiest to look for 100% fruit juice. Most juices that are labeled as 100% juice fall into this category, but you can make sure by taking a peek at the ingredients list. The only ingredient should be fruit juice. Any added ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or colored dye indicate that the juice is a less healthy option.
Compare sugar levels
Fruit is naturally high in sugar, but that doesn’t mean that the juice you buy is always healthy, just because the sugar content is natural. With any kind of sugar, natural or added, it’s important for your toddler not to get too much of it. That’s why it’s important to check the sugar content on any juice you buy. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that, when choosing a fruit juice, you look for one that has no more than one gram of sugar per ounce (30 mL) For reference, some juices contain up to 40 grams of sugar per 12 ounces.
Limit your toddler to one serving a day
Fruit juice packs a lot of calories and sugar – almost as much as soda. Because of this, it’s a drink best served on special occasions. Toddlers should have no more than one small cup of juice a day. The rest of the time, it’s important to encourage him to drink milk or water instead.
Don’t ditch the whole fruit
Juice isn’t a replacement for whole fruit, and your toddler should still eat two servings of real fruit every day. This teaches him healthy habits and gives him the fiber that juice doesn’t provide.
Make your own
You might not have the time to hand-squeeze twelve oranges, but a healthier option for fruit juice is to make some of your own. If you don’t have the time to do any serious juicing, fruit-infused water can be a fun and tasty drink for your toddler. Fill a pitcher with water and add berries or slices of your toddler’s favorite fruit. Let the fruit soak in the water, and pour your toddler a glass, making sure not to let any chunks or berries get in the water, as this could be a choking hazard. This is a much cheaper, much less sugary alternative to fruit juice.
If your toddler enjoys fruit juice, pick a healthy juice and limit the amount of juice that he drinks in a day. Fruit juice is fun and tasty, and you’ll feel a lot better serving it to your toddler if you know that it’s doing good things for his body.
“Healthy Drinks.” HSPH. Harvard.edu. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2016. Web.
“Juice or Fruit Drinks?” FNS.USDA.gov. Pamphlet from United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Jul 5 2016. Web.
“How Sweet Is It?” HSPH.Harvard.edu. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2016. Web.