Originally posted here by Kristi King, clinical dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines when it comes to kids and juice. So what does this mean for your children?

Babies: No juice for you!

Why? Well, juice, even 100 percent fruit juice, doesn’t offer any superior nutrition versus whole fruits. Babies should be consuming breast milk or infant formula as their liquid nutrition. There is evidence that introducing juice into a baby’s diet before solid foods could cause them to not want breast milk or formula which they depend on for protein, calories and other nutrients essential for their growth and development.

Toddlers 1-3 years: 4 oz. (½ cup) maximum daily
Children 4-6 years: 4-6 oz. (1/2 – 2/3 cup) maximum daily

These age groups tends to overconsume juice because it tastes good! Too much fruit juice can contribute to diarrhea, as well as either malnutrition or overnutrition. Malnutrition occurs when the child fills up on juice and does not take other nutrient containing foods willingly. Overnutrition occurs from the excess calories the juice is providing on top of eating plenty of other foods.

Children/teen 7-18 years: Up to 8 oz. maximum daily

Older children, in general, don’t consume as much juice as younger children, so it may not be as much of an issue for them. However, there are some studies that show consuming more than 12 oz. per day has a link to obesity.

So, now that we know the recommendations, what else should you know?

  • When purchasing juice, look for 100 percent fruit juice. Fruit juice beverages are not the same thing and tend to be very high in added sugars and calories.
  • Encourage your child to eat whole fruits. Eating whole fruits ensures your child is getting fiber (which helps them stay full and keeps things moving – if you catch my drift) and other vitamins and minerals.
  • Some fruit juices having extra vitamin C or calcium added to it. That’s great, but remember, it doesn’t contain other important nutrients such as vitamin D or protein which growing kids need.
  • Despite the old-wives tale, fruit juice is not a cure for diarrhea. It does not contain appropriate electrolytes to help the body recover, and in fact, the natural sugars in fruit juice may contribute to worsening the diarrhea.
  • At the above recommendations, 100 percent fruit juice can be used as part of an overall healthy diet, so no need to get rid of it completely, just monitor your consumption.