Putting the Squeeze on Juice
How Much Is Too Much?
All that said, kids love juice, and a little bit each day is fine. Lifschitz recommends no more than one ounce daily per three pounds of body weight, or about 1.2 cups for the average two year old and 1.8 cups for a five year old.
Juice should never be the main source of liquid for a child (that should be water), nor their main source of nutrition, says Lifschitz. And no child under four months of age should be given anything but mother's milk or formula.
In addition to limiting juice amounts, there are things parents should keep in mind when choosing healthy juices. Melissa Einfrank, RD, a clinical dietician with the University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., recommends the following:
- Look for juices that are fortified with vitamin C, such as apple juice for babies.
Calcium-fortified juices are good options, but not as good a source of calcium as milk or other dairy products, which contain vitamin D, aiding the absorption of calcium, according to Einfrank.
- When possible, offer your children fresh fruit instead of juice, suggests Einfrank. "Fresh fruit contains fiber and nutrients and vitamins that are lost in the juicing process."
- If you must give your child juice, try diluting it with water. "Kids need fluids, so adding water to juice not only helps decrease the amount of sugar they're drinking but gives them the water their bodies need," she explains.