Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Juice "Problem"
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The virtues of a balanced diet are common knowledge so why are doctors warning parents and care givers of the danger of fruit juice? One of the dangers is that juice is filling and will decrease your child's appetite for other foods causing their diet to be out of balance. While 100% juice is good in moderation, drinking too much will provide too many calories from sugars or carbohydrates and not enough from fat or protein which are important for a healthy body and brain. Dentists also recommend limiting juice because the high acid and sugar content can be hard on your little one's teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thought fruit juice was enough of a danger to issue a policy statement about “The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics”. They recommend the following 6 steps:
*when you give your child juice, it should be 100% pasteurized fruit juice and not fruit drinks.
*infants under 6 months of age should not be given juice, although many Pediatricians do recommend small amounts of juice for children that are constipated
*infants between 6 and 12 months can drink up to 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day, but should do it only in a cup, not a bottle
*younger children aged 1 to 6 years should have only 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day
*older children should be limited to 8 to 12 ounces of juice a day
*instead of juice, children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits
You can prevent problems by waiting until your baby is 6 months old before giving juice and then offer it in a cup and not a bottle. Also, prevent your child from using their sippy cup as a security object by restricting it to meal or snack times. It may help to change from a sippy cup to a sport's type bottle which can prevent spills like a sippy cup but is harder to drink out of. If your child is eating a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables and drinking 16 to 24 ounces of milk or dairy products daily it is unlikely you have a juice problem even if you are exceeding the AAP's limits. However, if your child is a picky eater, has cavities or is overweight it may be wise to ask your physician for help with their eating habit.
You understand your child best and are the best guide in determining their diet needs but if you see any of the warning signs of a "juice problem", talk to your doctor or nurse.