When can an infant have juice?

Fruit juices should not be introduced to an child’s diet until 1 year of age. Only use 100% fruit juice that has been pasteurized.  Other fruit drinks which don’t say 100% fruit juice on the label contain more added sugar and other non-essential ingredients. Non-pasteurized juices can contain harmful bacteria which can make children very ill.

You may be enticed by juices which contain multiple fruits like the mango-apple-banana-rama, but stick with introducing juices which contain only one type of fruit if your child has not previously eaten the fruits contained in the juice.

Certain fruits and juices, especially grapefruit juice, can affect how well certain medications work, ask your pediatrician if any medication your child is taking can be affected by fruit juice.

My child doesn’t like fruits, is juice an acceptable supplement?

Using only 100% juice to satisfy the daily fruit requirements in a balanced diet is not advised.  Juice should be used for no more than ½ of the daily fruit recommendation.  Whole fruit is definitely preferred over juices.

Children between 6 months and 3 years should consume about 1 cup of fruit per day and 1 to 1 ½ cups of fruit per day for ages 4-8 years.  This is best achieved by providing your child with a small serving of fruit with each meal throughout the day.

How much fruit counts as a cup?  Follow this Table from www.choosemyplate.gov

Fruits should be cut small, mashed, or pureed for all young children to avoid choking hazards.

Whole grapes and cherries have been the cause of numerous choking episodes and many accidental deaths in children. It’s best to “quarter” each grape or cherry so that the pieces are smaller and much less likely to

Fruit juices typically contain MORE calories per cup than whole fruit. One medium sized apple (which counts as a little more than a cup) has 80 calories. One cup of 100% apple juice has between 110-140 calories depending on the brand –Almost double the amount of calories with no added nutritional benefit!

How much juice should I give my child in a day?

Children between 1 year and 6 years old should have no more than 4 oz (½ cup) of juice per day. Juice should not be used as a reward or as a drink throughout the day, but rather only given with meals or snacks (if at all). If your child is used to drinking a certain quantity of liquid with each snack/meal, you can dilute the juice with water so they can still have the flavor without the additional calories. To reduce the risk for dental cavities, juices should be consumed from a cup or sippy cup as opposed to a bottle, and never kept with a child in bed.

For more information on juice consumption or nutrition, please consult with your pediatrician.

**Update (9/18/11)** just days after writing this article, Dr. Mehmet Oz of the “Dr. Oz” television show made claims that common brands of apple juice were found to have high levels of arsenic according to a study that he and his television show performed.

I believe that these claims, which have been called unfounded by the FDA and the juice companies, are not accurate.  The tests performed by Dr. Oz do not separate arsenic (which is a naturally occurring element) as organic vs. inorganic (harmful).  Additionally, you can read a statement from Juicy Juice here
At this point the sugar content of juices and potential for harm from unpasteurized juices should be the main concerns for parents.

**Update (7/11/13)** The FDA has proposed a new limit on acceptable levels of arsenic in apple juice. The limit, 10 parts per billion, will equal the level that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) sets for drinking water. In the nearly 2 year FDA investigation, they found that the majority of apple juices already met this requirement. The FDA does not recommend one brand of apple juice over another.
Even with the new recommendation, the amount of juice that children consume each day should not change. No more than 4 ounces per day!