Juice is liquid candy. Sure, it has a few more vitamins than your average can of Coke, but it also has more sugar. Your days of pretending it’s healthy are over: the American Academy of Pediatricians has finally found the guts to tell us to stop giving juice to babies.
Sort of. “It is optimal to completely avoid the use of juice in infants before 1 year of age,” the AAP writes in their new juice recommendations. You get the feeling they don’t think parents will listen. Juice was already off-limits for babies under 6 months (who should get all their nutrition from human milk or formula) and they have lowered the amount they recommend feeding to older kids. Now they say four ounces in a day is plenty for a one-year-old, or eight ounces (that’s one measly cup) for kids seven and up.
Harsh as these new rules sound, they make sense. There’s no nutritional reason to give kids juice: it’s just sugar and water. If you want to feed them fruit, feed them actual fruit, which contains fiber and other good stuff that juice leaves out. And if you want to hydrate them, stick with water for everyday uses and Pedialyte for medical ones: parents sometimes give juice to kids with diarrhea, but the sugar in juice (and sports drinks, for that matter) can make diarrhea worse.
What about that favorite tactic of un-fun parents everywhere—watering down juice? This makes it lower in sugar, which means it’s less like candy as far as your kid’s diet is concerned. Their teeth may not notice the difference, though: the AAP notes that kids who sip juice all day tend to get cavities, and there’s no evidence that watered-down juice results in fewer cavities.