AAP Release New Guidelines for Fruit Juice Consumption

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics published new guidelines concerning fruit juice consumption for kids. There is nothing terribly surprising about the changes, but it is important for parents to make sure they’re up to date on these changes. The basic message of the new guidelines is that kids should be drinking less juice and babies shouldn’t be drinking juice at all.

This caught my attention because I’ve been relying pretty heavily on juice the last couple of months. We’ve never been juice drinkers in our house. My two older kids get a juice box if we eat a Chik-fil-a or have a picnic, but we don’t really drink it at home.

That change when my youngest turned six months and started eating solid foods, I found myself buying juice again. Poor guy, he’s just one of those kids who needs a little help with his digestive system. It’s been slowly getting better, but on a regular basis I’m breaking out the apple juice to speed things up, if you know what I mean.

The new guidelines published by the AAP are pretty simple. Since there is no real health benefit for kids drinking juice before that age of one, they recommend avoiding it completely. After the age of one, it’s OK for kids to have juice but it shouldn’t be a lot and it definitely shouldn’t be used to hydrate kids. Parents should be offering water all day.

In fact, between the ages of 1 and 3, the AAP suggests keeping juice consumption under 4 ounces each day. As kids get older they can have a little more, but kids ages 4 to 6 shouldn’t drink more than 6 ounces and kids 7 to 18 should be capped at 8 ounces daily.

The last time the AAP changed their guidelines about juice consumption was in 2001 and the reason for the changes to these guidelines is that they are outdated. Dr. Steven A. Abrams, who co-authored the new guidelines, told CNN that parents had previously been advised to introduce juice at 6 months but those guidelines didn’t make sense in light of what we know about the sugar and calorie content of juice. Juice isn’t really healthy for kids and a lot to fruit juice is high sugar and high calorie, which can make it difficult for parents to keep their kids’ calorie intake at a healthy level.

In addition to concerns about the sugar and calorie content of juice, the AAP has worries about what drinking juice at an early age can do to teeth. This is especially true if parents are in the habit of letting their kids carry around a sippy cup of bottle of juice all day, according to CNN.

Breaking a juice habit might not go over well with your toddler, but it is definitely worth it in the long run. Switch juice out for water or trying diluting the juice slowly if your child is really struggling with the change. And be sure you are following the AAP’s advice to focus on encouraging your kids to eat whole fruits instead of juice, since whole fruits have much more nutritional value.