So why all the conversation about juice? After all, for generations, giving babies juice early in life has been an honored tradition, one felt to be of great nutritional value.
Now, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no juice at all for the first year of life and only limited amounts of freshly squeezed fruit juice for the next two years of life. The reason is simple: fruit juice, contrary to popular opinion, has little nutritional value AND is loaded with calories and sugar. So, for now, stick with breast milk as long as possible and use regular baby foods or those pureed at home.
For generations, children have eaten too much refined sugar. Trends of poor health, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, continue and have grown.
Refined white sugar contains over 99.9 percent sucrose, and has no nutritional value like vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber.
“Junk foods” like soda, cookies, cake, candy, and frozen desserts crowd out appetites for healthy foods. However, many brands of children’s favorite foods also add sugar.
Recent studies show that children are eating too much refined sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) found children as young as 1 to 3 years old eating around 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. By the time a child is 4 to 8 years old, sugar intake jumps to an average of 21 teaspoons a day. These amounts go beyond the recommended intake of sugar.
A recent Daily Burn post provides an eye-opening infographic called How Much Sugar is Hiding on Your Plate that shows how sugar intake adds up quickly–without using the sugar bowl.
New AHA Guidelines on Refined Sugar Intake
The American Heart Association (AHA) has just issued new guidelines that give more specific details on sugar intake during childhood.
For children under age 2, the AHA recommends NO added sugar.
For children older than two, the AHA provides specific guidelines: no more than eight ounces of any sugar sweetened beverage per week. NO more than 6 teaspoons of sugar added to foods at the table or eaten separately per week.
Sugar Intake Tips
Parents can take the following steps to limit the amount of sugar in their child’s diet:
Provide a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Offer high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish.
Offer naturally sweet and healthy snacks like fresh and dried fruit.
Replace soda and sweetened beverages with low-fat milk (whole milk for children under 2) or water.
Offer only small servings of 100 percent fruit juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice intake to 4 to 6 ounces for children under 7, and 8 to 12 ounces for older children.
For many years, doctors recommended that your baby drink fruit juice. In fact, doctors often recommended fruit juice as the first food, other than mother’s milk or formula. If you have a grandparent or caregivers that recommends your baby drink fruit juice, be aware that they may mean well but are misinformed.
Recommendations for Babies and Fruit Juice
Keep in mind that today health professionals do not recommend that your baby drink fruit juice and even water under six months of age. Fluids other than breast milk and formula replace the nutrient-rich milk and can lead to poor nutrition in very young babies. See the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Daily Juice Recommendations. These Guidelines recommend no fruit juice for infants under six months and limited use as your child grows older.
Parents and caregivers should care whether an infant gets enough to drink. An infant’s body consists of 70-75% of water, more than most adults. To maintain this high concentration, babies need more liquids, in relation to their size, than adults. Fortunately, babies naturally eat foods with high in fluid content. You can know if your baby is getting enough fluid by observing the amount, frequency, and concentration of urine. If it is in small amounts, appears infrequent, and highly concentrated, your baby likely needs more breast milk or formula.
As an exception, your doctor or nurse practitioner may recommend diluted fruit juice to ease constipation in an infant. If your baby drinks fruit juice for this reason, your health professional will advise you to dilute the juice (as much as 75-90%) and never use unpasteurized (home-made fruit or vegetable juice or raw apple cider). Unpasteurized juice exposes your young child to harmful bacteria.
As your baby grows beyond six months, use diluted, pasteurized fruit juice offered in a cup at meal time only. This will avoid the known potential for tooth decay, poor nutrition, and obesity associated with children drinking too much juice.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has issued updated guidance, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, regarding the peanut allergies in infants.
This guidance says that babies with severe eczema, egg allergy or both should first receive pureed or finger foods with peanuts at ages 4 months to 6 months after prior allergy testing and intake of other solid foods.
While those with mild to moderate eczema should be exposed to peanuts at around age 6 months.
Those without eczema or food allergies can have peanut-containing foods “freely.”
Implementation of the guidelines, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and five other journals, may significantly lower pediatric food allergies, said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.