When Can Children Start Drinking Juice?

As a new parent you may be wondering, When can I start offering juice to my child? Here we will explore the debates about children drinking juice and offer some guidelines.

Your child will go through so many new developments through the course of her first year. As a new parent, you may find yourself scouring books and online resources trying to find out if your child's constant drooling is normal or if her poop is the wrong color. You may have tons of questions like when to expect her first tooth or when she can start eating solids. One question many parents find themselves asking is when their child can start to drink juice along with her formula or breastmilk. Before delving into the specifics of appropriate times for juice and amounts of juice, we will explore the opinions of nutritionists concerning children and juice, in general.

Perhaps not as intense as the debate of breastmilk versus formula, the debate over whether to allow a child to partake in fruit drinks and juices is also quite controversial. Many nutritional experts suggest that formula or breastmilk be the primary liquid for the first year of a child's life. The reason for this is that while fresh and natural fruit juice gives the illusion of being nutritious, it contains too much concentrated sugar for children to process. Some side effects of drinking too much juice include tooth decay, obesity and low bone density. Tooth decay can occur when parents allow a child to drink juice out of a bottle throughout the day, causing the sugar from the juice to settle on a child's teeth and promoting cavities and decay. Obesity can also be a problem when children drink too many empty and sugary calories, as found in juice. Low bone density can also be a problem since juices do not contain Vitamin D, unlike formula and breastmilk, which helps a child's body absorb the calcium it needs to strengthen growing bones.

With all that being said, it is not necessary to forbid your children from enjoying fruit juices. They key, however, is moderation. Nutritionists suggest that if you choose to offer juice to your child, it should be 100% juice, as opposed to juices from concentrate. These juices will give your children some form of nutrients unlike other drinks that are simply flavored with the taste of fruit. Be sure to avoid juices that may not be pasteurized, like apple cider, because this can cause your child to get sick from bacteria. As a general rule of thumb, children should not be allowed to drink any form of juice until they are able to drink from a cup that they can hold on their own, usually after a child is six months old. If your child is under a year of age, you may want to dilute her juice with water, only allowing her to drink a small bit. Children that are between the ages of one to six years old are generally allowed up to six ounces of juice each day, while children that are over the age of seven can have a bit more. Again, remember moderation is the key here. If at all possible, substitute your child's juice intake with a fresh piece of fruit that will offer more nutrients and less sugar.

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