How much juice should you give to your baby, and when? Mothers and pediatricians have debated this for ages. Interestingly, opinion is shifting on the matter. While fruit juice is extremely healthy, it’s also extremely sweet, so should actually be given in moderation. After all, it takes a good 10 oranges to make a cup of orange juice. That’s a lot of oranges to be consuming—and a lot of calories!
Pediatricians generally agree that before age 6 months, babies should only receive breast milk or formula, because those are complete foods. (source: American Academy of Pediatrics) After 6 months, if your baby is drinking from a cup, you can introduce some juice into his or her diet. Don’t give juice in a bottle and never put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice. The natural sugars can lead to cavities. Four to six ounces a day is plenty. An option to juice is mashed or pureed whole fruits and vegetables.
As your baby gets older, his or her needs will change. Fruit juice is sweet and many toddlers will overindulge if given the chance. Don’t give your toddler a sippy cup full of juice, or a juice box, to walk around with all day. The prolonged exposure to natural sugars can cause dental problems. Use juice, instead, as a treat or a snack.
When it comes to beverages, babies and toddlers do just fine when introduced to water as the drink of choice. And as always, discuss food concerns with your family doctor or pediatrician.