When can babies have juice is a common question among parents, but before you go on that fruit-shopping spree, hold on. Fruit juice is not as healthy as you think it is.
Yes, we've heard that 100 percent fruit juices can come with some nutrients, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and pediatricians beg to differ. And for good reason.
Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics say you should only serve juice to your baby once they are one year of age. Before we get to the reasons, we'd like to clear the fuss about giving babies juice.
It all comes down to their digestive system.
Digestion breaks down food into nutrients our body can absorb and use. It takes place in our gastrointestinal tract.
Your baby's first feed kickstarts their digestive system, and what they consume for the next months dictates their health and growth. Hence, breastmilk or formula becomes crucial as they create a healthy gut microbiome, a collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc., building a good immune system.
Dr. Betty Choi, founder of Human Body Learning, elaborates, "Babies under 12 months should not drink juice unless a doctor recommends it for treating constipation. Babies four months and older can start trying solid or pureed fiber-rich foods. An easy way to remember fiber-rich foods is to think of the letter "p"- pears, peaches, plums, peas. Oatmeal and other vegetables can help, too."
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) mentions that juice isn't healthy for a toddler under one year.
The critical point to remember is that whole fruits are always better than fruit juices.
The main reasons why your baby should not drink juice are:
The bottom line is that juice has no nutritional benefits for your baby.
Dr. Choi elaborates, "The problem with juice is that it's relatively high in sugar and can lead to cavities and watery diarrhea. It's also easy for kids to drink excessive amounts of calories from juice, leading to obesity. Instead, it's better to eat fresh fruit, which is filling and rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Breast milk or formula must be your baby's primary liquid until they are six months old. They are the healthiest diet a baby can have.
But after your baby turns six months old, you can introduce them to solid foods. You can start with boiled fruits instead of 100% fruit juices here.
Even "all-natural" fruit juices have sugar, affecting your baby's future growth and development.
"Excessive sugar in juice can be hard for babies to digest, leading to acute or chronic water diarrhea. It can also put babies at risk for cavities. Juice is not recommended for babies under the age of 12 months. All juice should be avoided unless a doctor recommends a small and specific amount for constipation", explains Dr. Choi.
As mentioned, fruit juices are not recommended for babies under a year. They get all the required nutrition from breast milk or formula.
Dr. Choi mentions, "The best options are breastmilk and formula for infants under four months, and for infants four months and older, breast milk and formula are still the main part of the diet plus the solid foods. Small pieces or puréed whole fruit are healthier for babies four months and up than 100% fruit juices."
You may think that vegetable juices might be a great alternative, but bear in mind that they contain salt, which isn't healthy. When you finally introduce solids to your 6-month-old toddler, offer them water to ease digestion.
7-month-old babies should only have breast milk or formula. You can also introduce water to their diet after they turn six months old.
Juice can lead to multiple issues like diarrhea, weight gain, tooth decay, rashes, and so on. They will also make the child prefer sweeter food over healthy food.
You can introduce small amounts of juice to your baby after they turn one year old. Ensure you've boiled the fruits and vegetables and have diluted them with water. 100% fruit juices also work, but watching the serving sizes is crucial. Do not offer more than 4 ounces per day.
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