Fruit Juices



Fruit juice can be a healthy source of vitamin C and an extra source of water for infants. More than 90% of all infants consume fruit juices by the time they reach the age of 1 year. The type of juice and its content (carbohydrates, sorbitol, fiber, etc.) affect your baby's ability to digest, absorb, and tolerate the juice. The following are some common questions and concerns raised by parents:

How can I limit the amount of juice my child drinks?

Juice is highly addictive for young children. In order to limit the amount of juice your child drinks, try the following:

- Offer juice less often.
- Dilute the juice with water and gradually add more water everyday.
- Serve whole fruits or small snacks instead of juice.
- Serve milk or water instead of juice.

What if my baby refuses juice?

If your baby refuses juice, it is not such a "big deal" as fruit juices are not considered a necessity in the infant diet. You may go directly to fruits and vegetables.

Do I have to dilute juice when I give it to my baby?

- If given before one year of age, it is recommended to dilute the juice. In fact, some suggest diluting juice at any age.
- If your toddler drinks an excessive amount of juice, you may begin to dilute the juice to decrease the ingestion of empty calories, improve her appetite and the intake of more nutritious foods.
- If your toddler drinks a very small amount of juice, you do not need to dilute it.

What do I do if my baby has diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain from fruit juices?

- Some juices such as pears, apples, and prunes contain significant amounts of the sugar fructose and sorbitol, which is non-absorbable and leads to diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is due to fermentation from the existing bacteria in the large bowel.
- In these cases, decrease juice intake or eliminate it from your child's diet.
- Usually, diarrhea is associated with excessive juice intake (grape juice is better tolerated than apple or prune juice).

Can a rash occur in the anal area from juice?

- Large amounts of fruit juices sometimes irritate the anal skin area and cause anal rashes due to acidic stools. Decrease the use of fruits or dilute juices and/or eliminate it entirely from your baby's diet to stop the rashes. Consult your doctor.

Is commercial baby juice okay to use?

- There are commercial baby juices available specifically for infants and toddlers that are okay for use.
- They are more expensive than regular frozen or bottled juices.
- Avoid unpasteurized juices and do not use regular bottled or canned vegetable juice since they are high in sodium (use low sodium vegetable juice).

Why can I give my constipated baby apple juice and not apple sauce?

- There is a difference in contents between apple juice and apple sauce.
- Apple sauce contains a higher level of pectin (soluble fiber that firms and bulks stool) and leads to constipation.
- Apple juice contains more sugars and liquids and has a mild laxative effect that has been proven to provide some relief from constipation (it also helps children absorb more iron).

Is commercial baby juice okay to use?

- There are commercial baby juices available specifically for infants and toddlers that are okay for use.
- They are more expensive than regular frozen or bottled juices.
- Avoid unpasteurized juices and do not use regular bottled or canned vegetable juice since they are high in sodium (use low sodium vegetable juice).

Why can I give my constipated baby apple juice and not apple sauce?

- There is a difference in contents between apple juice and apple sauce.
- Apple sauce contains a higher level of pectin (soluble fiber that firms and bulks stool) and leads to constipation.
- Apple juice contains more sugars and liquids and has a mild laxative effect that has been proven to provide some relief from constipation (it also helps children absorb more iron).

Doesn't juice make kids fat?

- The notion that drinking that drinking 100% fruit juice will make children fat is just a myth.
- Many studies do not show a connection between 100% fruit juice consumption and overweight in children.
- It is important to remember that there are many factors associated with childhood obesity non-dependent only on diet and activity but, rather due to genetics and other non clear factors.

About the Author: Dr. Maurice Levy, an eminent pediatrician, has 30 years of day-to-day medical experience in hospitals and in his active pediatric primary care and consultation clinic. Former Chief of Pediatrics and currently Head of Pediatric Research at North York General Hospital, Dr. Levy has trained and worked in various hospitals across the globe. Along with his medical degree and specialty in General Pediatrics, Dr. Levy has received various specialized diplomas and received numerous awards and publications. For more information, visit: www.babyandtoddlerhealth.com.

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