Is it OK to give my child fruit juice?
Children older than age 1 should really only drink juice in small amounts – since it offers no nutritional benefits in this age group. Milk or plain water are much better drink choices for babies and children. Juice also might increase the risk of tooth decay and cause your baby to prefer sweeter flavours instead of just plain water.
If you want to offer juice – read our advice first:
1) Light destroys the vitamins in freshly-squeezed juice so cartons are better for storage than bottles. Plus, cartons – shelf stable and refrigerated ones – are primarily paper, so they’re easier to recycle than plastic too.
2) There are two basic types of fresh fruit juice: 100 per cent juice and pure fruit juice ‘made from concentrate’ which is diluted with water. The 100 per cent fresh juice usually states ‘not from concentrates’ on the pack, but the difference is obvious too in the higher price of pure juice. There is more nutrients and fewer additives in 100% juice and adding water to 100% fruit juice can make a little go a long way.
3) Orange juice made from concentrates can have higher levels of vitamin C than freshly-squeezed juice because concentrate is frozen for storage so it doesn’t deteriorate as fast.
4) The amount of vitamin C found in fresh or concentrated juice depends on the maturity and variety of oranges used to make the juice. This can vary greatly but it’s impossible for consumers to know what the condition of the fruit was.
5) Juice drinks are not fruit juice, even though the packaging and placement in shops might give the impression they are. They contain minimal amounts of fruit juice mixed with water, sugar and/or other forms of sugar, syrups, artificial sweeteners, flavourings and colourings.
6) Baby juices are single or mixtures of juices packaged as part of babyfood ranges. They can be pure juice or diluted – check the label. Compare prices with 100 per cent fruit juice.
7) All 20 milk teeth appear between six months and two-and-a-half years. The enamel on freshly erupted teeth is immature and especially vulnerable to fruit juice, fizzy and other drinks with high acidity. The best drink for babies is cooled, boiled water, which also gives them a taste for this most important drink, for life.
8) Baby juices and 100 per cent fruit or vegetable juices should be diluted one part juice to ten parts cooled boiled water from six months. Vegetable juices (without salt and additives) will widen your baby or toddler’s taste for vegetables. Gradually decrease dilution until your child is two when half-and-half fruit juice and water may be given and continue to dilute for all preschool children.
9) Older children can use straws for fruit juice, squash and other sweeter drinks to avoid the juice washing over their teeth as much as it does when drunk from a container.
10) Do not give fresh apple juice (non-pasteurised) to a toddler as it may contain harmful bacteria.
And… Wait an hour before brushing after giving fruit juice or other acidic food or drink. That hour gives the saliva a chance to neutralise most of the acid and prevents acid being scrubbed into the tooth enamel and causing erosion.