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.