AAP releases new guidelines on kid’s juice consumption
The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for fruit juice consumption in kids this week. While the previous guidelines said that juice should not be offered to a baby until they were six months old, the new recommendation is that children should not be given fruit juice until they are a year old, unless it is recommended by a doctor for purposes of managing constipation.
The new changes reflect the AAP’s understanding of childhood obesity rates and cavities in children. “We couldn’t really see any reason why juice was still part of the potential recommendation for 6- to 12-month-old kids,” said Dr. Steven A. Abrams, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, and co-author of the policy statement told CNN. The new recommendations acknowledge that babies under a year old should be having healthier liquids to prevent dehydration. “We recommend breastfeeding or formula in that age group, and there really isn’t any need or beneficial role for juice, so we kind of made that adjustment.”
The good news is you don’t have to pry that juice box out of your toddler’s fingers forever. While the AAP cautions parents against letting children sip juice freely throughout the day they do allow for kids ages one and up to drink 100% fresh or reconstituted juice with no added sugar as part of a balanced diet. They suggest staying away from unpasteurized juices, as they have the potential to make kids ill.
They recommend giving juice with a meal or snack instead of offering it to a child whenever they ask for it or as a way to defuse a tantrum. If your child is clamoring for a box of the good stuff between meals the AAP suggests tempting them with an actual piece of fruit instead. This will give them the sweetness they crave with the added benefit of fiber that’s lacking in juice. “We primarily are supporting that kids learn how to eat fruit rather than fruit juice,” Abrams said of the new recommendations. “I think that comes across more strongly than it has before.”
Under the new guidelines, babies under a year old shouldn’t be offered any juice unless recommended by a doctor. Children between the ages of one and three can have up to four ounces of juice a day. Children between the ages of four and six can have up to six ounces of juice a day. Children between the ages of seven and 18 should limit their juice intake to one cup a day or less.
Obviously these are recommendations — not laws. Parents can and should consult their family pediatrician to make the choices they feel is best for their children. But the next time your kid asks for a juice box and you don’t want to give them one but you also don’t want to be the bad guy, feel free to blame it on the AAP.