Is Your Child Drinking Too Much Fruit Juice?
Trying to encourage your kids to eat a balanced diet can be a real challenge. Some days are more difficult than others, and on the difficult days, juice can help to make sure your kids are getting some of the vitamins they need, and they’ll readily accept it because let’s face it, juice is tasty! But how much juice is too much?
Too much juice intake can add excessive calories and sugar to a child’s diet and may lead to dental issues like cavities. Children that drink too much juice may also be less likely to drink enough water and milk, or eat enough healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruits, lacks fiber, and can have the same amount of calories as soda. So, if the choice is between juice or a piece of fruit, it’s best to try to prioritize the fruit.
- Infants under one year old should not drink juice unless medically recommended
- Toddlers age 1-3 should drink no more that 4 oz of juice per day
- Children 4-6 years old should drink no more that 6 oz of juice per day
- Children 7-18 years old should drink no more than 8 oz of juice per day
Juice Can Be a Good Thing!
100% fruit juice can be a healthy part of a well-balanced diet when consumed in appropriate amounts. It can be a great source of vitamin C, potassium and folate, and sometimes it is even fortified with calcium or vitamin D. According to the USDA’s MyPlate guide, children ages 1-2 years old should consume ½-1 cup of fruit servings per day, and children ages 2-18 should consume 1-2 cups fruit servings per day2. One of those servings may come from 100% fruit juice.
How Can You Guide Your Child’s Juice Consumption?
Here are a few suggestions to make sure your child’s juice intake is as healthy as possible:
- Make sure kids are drinking 100% fruit juice with no added sugar, not fruit drinks or sports drinks which can contain as little as 10% fruit juice.
- Don’t serve kids unpasteurized juice, as it may contain bacteria that could make them sick.
- Juice should be served in a cup, not a bottle.
- Only offer juice with meals and snacks, and water only in between meals.
- Limit time child has with a sippy cup so it doesn’t become a security item – try only letting them have the cup with meals and snacks.
- Try diluting the juice with water for a less sweetened beverage.
- Make fruit juice ice cubes that toddlers can add into their cups of water. Each ice cube will measure out to be about 1 ounce of juice.
- Always try to model healthy nutrition and set a good example. Try drinking more water and less juice and soda.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. “Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Current Recommendations.” 1 June 2017. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/139/6/e20170967/38754/Fruit-Juice-in-Infants-Children-and-Adolescents?autologincheck=redirected Accessed 22 September 2023.
- USDA My Plate. “Fruits.” https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/fruits Accessed 22 September 2023.