Fruit juices are often marketed as a healthy, natural source of vitamin hence most parents have no qualms serving fruit juice to their children. Children love fruit juices as they are sweet and taste good. But is fruit juice a good substitute for fresh fruit?
The current American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines state that 100-percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be given to children ABOVE 1 year old if it is consumed as part of a well-balanced diet. However, the amount of fruit juice consumed should be limited depending on a child’s age.
For children less than 1-year-old, giving fruit juice is strongly DISCOURAGED as it does not confer any additional nutritional benefit in their diet.
Recommended Daily Amounts for Fruit Juice
The policy statement recommendations include:
➡️ Limiting fruit juices to 4 ounces (120ml) daily in children aged 1-3 years, 4 to 6 ounces (120-180ml) in children aged 4-6 years and a maximum of 8 ounces (240ml) for children 7 years and above.
Amount of 100% Juice
Infant less than 1 year old
1 to 3 years old
4 ounces (120ml) or less per day
4 to 6 years old
Up to 6 ounces (180ml) per day
7 years and above
No more than 8 (240ml) ounces per day
Best Practice in Giving Fruit Juice
➡️ In toddlers, fruit juices should not be given from bottles or transportable “sippy cups” that allows them to consume juices easily throughout the day. The prolonged exposure to sugar in fruit juices can promote tooth decay.
➡️ Toddlers should not be given fruit juices at bedtime
➡️ Consumption of unpasteurized juice products is strongly discouraged for children of all ages. This is because when fruits or vegetables are made into fresh-squeezed juice, harmful bacteria may be present and become part of the finished product.
At the end of the day, children should always be encouraged to eat whole fruits as compared to fruit juice as the latter contains less dietary fiber and may contribute to excessive weight gain.
While fruit juice can contain many of the same vitamins contained in fresh fruit, it’s not always an exact substitute.
Dr. JoAnn Rajah is a child specialist that provides pediatric care to baby and children in Selangor and KL. Her core strength lies in diagnosing early signs of child health issues and guiding parents on how to manage them.