Is it Okay to Give a Baby Juice?

Juice is refreshing, easily available, and somewhat nutritious. In moderation, it’s fine for most adults and children to drink. However, babies are different in their needs, and the question of “Can I give my baby juice?” is a common one.

What’s Recommended:

Babies may start having juice at six months of age, but some doctors recommend only serving it after 12 months of age. At this point, they can handle consuming something other than formula or breast milk.

How Much is Enough?

Babies should only be served between two and four fluid ounces each day, if they drink any juice at all. This limited quantity is recommended because juice has a lot of calories in it. While calories are good for growing children, it’s best to give babies food and drinks that are balanced in what they offer. Juice, while it does have some vitamins in it, is fairly packed with sugar.

What Can Too Much Juice Do?

Giving a baby too much juice may possibly lead to excess weight. Drinking this amount of calories is so easily done because many people don’t realize that a cup of juice usually has more than 100 calories in it. Another reason why you have to be careful about giving a baby juice is because it could cause diarrhea.

When you give a baby juice, you could also affect the development of the teeth. Tooth decay can start to be a real problem, even with baby teeth, because of the high-sugar content of juice. Bacteria are drawn to the sugar and turn it into acid, which can start breaking down the enamel of the teeth. If you choose to give a baby juice, use a cup instead of a bottle. When kids drink out of bottles, it can be a drawn out process, and the sugar can linger in the mouth. Drinking out of a cup tends to be a faster process in which the sugar moves pass the teeth fairly quickly.

Types of Juice to Serve:

If you do give a baby juice, make sure it’s 100% fruit juice. There are a lot of drinks at grocery stores that seem like they’re completely made from fruit, but they’re not all 100% juice. Juice “drinks” may have a bit of juice and a lot of added sugar or even food coloring. Powered drink mixes are usually sweetened as well. Whether they’re sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, these should be avoided with babies.

When you’ve decided you’ll give a baby juice, try to do so only at meal times. This helps you become more consistent in how you offer it. If you end up doing it at various points throughout the day, the baby could get used to it and start to refuse anything else. Babies are still developing so much that it’s important they get the nutrients from breast milk or formula, even if they do start to eat solid foods.

When Juice Might Be Needed:

Juice can be beneficial if a child is experiencing constipation. Since hydration is key in relieving constipation, it can be helpful to give a baby juice if he or she is having certain issues. In addition to providing fluids, some juices may have a small amount of fiber that can encourage bowel movements. Many fruits and fruit juices also have sorbitol. A byproduct of taking in sorbitol is that hard stools can be loosened, making them easier to pass.

Fruits that have sorbitol include:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Plums

Dried fruits, especially prunes, are high in sorbitol. Since babies are sensitive to medication and many types of food, offering juice as a way to stop constipation can be a go-to strategy.

Whole Fruit is Better!

When you have the question “Can I give my baby juice?”, you might also want to ask whether you can serve fruit to a baby. Fruits that haven’t been juiced have more fiber in them, and they can better fill up a baby’s stomach. While babies might not be able to crunch on an apple, for instance, they can certainly eat a mashed up banana or applesauce. Around five to six months is when many babies start getting fed this type of food.

Conclusion

While you could give a baby juice after six months or one year (if you want to be more conscientious about his or her diet), there’s always going to be a healthier alternative. Remember to feed your baby a balanced diet to promote strong bones, proper development, and a healthy start to life.