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Is Your Child Drinking Too Much Juice?

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Parents are often surprised when I tell them that fruit juice isn’t always the healthiest option for their kids. The truth of the matter is, most store-bought juices and fruit drinks are loaded with added sugar and preservatives, leading to tooth decay at early ages.

In general, fruit juice offers really no added nutritional benefit over whole fruit for infants and children. 100% fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be a healthy part of the diet of children older than one year when consumed as part of a well-balanced meal. Use caution with fruit drinks which are NOT nutritionally equivalent to 100% fruit juice.

Because of the increase in early childhood dental caries, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a recommendation for fruit juice intake based on age.

Kids ages 7 -18 should limit consumption to eight ounces a day. Children ages 4-6 can have four to six ounces a day and toddlers ages 1 – 3 should have no more than four ounces a day. Babies younger than one year should not have any juice at all!

To help parents out there, your friendly, neighborhood dentist in Maryland put together a list of helpful tips regarding juice consumption for your kiddos.

  1. Make Homemade Juice
    • Okay, I know it’s not feasible ALL the time but every once in a while if you can manage to make your own fruit juice, it will be much more beneficial for your child than store-bought.
  2. Eat More Fruit
    • Instead of juice, encourage your child to eat a piece of fruit instead. It’s much healthier to eat a few apple slices than drink apple juice. Fruits are packed with fiber and vitamins – the fruit drink is not
  3. Serve Juice in a Cup
    • If your child does drink juice, make sure to serve it to them in a cup, rather than a bottle. Prolonged exposure of the teeth to the sugars in juice is a major contributing factor to cavities.
  4. Juice Should be Part of a Meal
    • 100% fruit juice may be used as part of a meal or snack, not to be supped throughout the day or used to calm an upset child.
  5. Don’t Use to Rehydrate
    • If your child has diarrhea or vomiting, juice should not be used to rehydrate. Offer water instead.
  6. Make Sure it Doesn’t Affect Nutrition
    • Excessive juice consumption may be associated with malnutrition in kids because they may prefer the sugary dink over a nutritious meal. Oftentimes kids may feel full after drinking juice, and not be hungry at mealtimes.
  7. Watch for Health Issues
    • If your child drinks juice excessively, it can cause diarrhea, flatulence and abdominal distention.

If you have questions about your child’s juice consumption or overall diet, let us know at your next appointment and we can talk through them! The team at Dr. Camps Pediatric Dental Center in Maryland is happy to help in any way we can.

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