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Healthy Drinks For Kids – Does Juice Count?

Nutrition

Healthy Drinks For Kids – Does Juice Count?

Parents ask me frequently if juice is a healthy food for toddlers and children?  The short answer is yes and no. Juice can fill a child up so they eat less food, cause toddler’s diarrhea and lead to tooth decay, but does rehydrate and offer some minimal nutrition.

If you child is going to drink juice, please follow the recommended amounts.

If you are going to offer juice to your child, please make it 100% juice with no added sugar. At least with 100% juice your child will get more nutrients and vitamins than the ‘fake’ juices.

The more fiber-filled the better. A good rule of thumb – if you can see through it (like apple juice), it is fiber-void and you can do better. A better choice – take whole fruits and vegetables and make a fruit smoothie.

For more on smoothies and healthy drinks for kids

Research shows that drinking small amounts of juice does not lead to weight gain. However, juice does contain calories, and excessive calories can lead to excess weight, an ongoing issue in our society.

If you child is going to drink juice, please follow the recommended amounts.

The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends no intake of juice at all, and when kids do consume it, it should be no more than 125 to 175 mL (4 to 6 ounces) per day. Children less than 6 months of age should consume no juice at all, unless used temporarily to relieve constipation (and whole fruits and veg can be used for this purpose as well). Juice should be offered in a sippy cup or open cup, and not in a bottle to avoid tooth decay.

If your child is already a juice ‘connoisseur’ here are some tips to decrease intake:

  • Make your own ‘juice’ – put water in a pitcher and add slices of fresh fruit. Orange, apple, berry and melon work great. Once the fruit and water have mixed, the water will be flavored and much healthier than juice.
  • Dilute juice with water, starting with half water, half juice and gradually increasing the percentage of water.
  • Make juice a ‘treat’, saved for parties or special occasions.
  • Be a role model! If your children see you drinking more water and less sugary (or sweetened) drinks, they will emulate.

Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Written By: Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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