The American Academy of Pediatrics published a statement this month concerning the consumption of juice in infants. They are now recommending postponing the introduction of juice until after a child’s first birthday. This expands on the previous recommendation from 2011 in which they recommended no juice in infants under six months. They attribute the change due to the rising rates of dental disease and obesity in our nation’s youngest citizens. To read the full report, click here.
Summary of Recommendations
- Under 1: No juice.
- 1 to 3 years: Limit to a maximum of 4 oz juice daily and only at meals.
- 4 to 6 years: Limit to a maximum of 4-6 oz juice daily and only at meals.
- 7-18 years: Limit to a maximum of 8 oz juice daily.
Juice for Thought
While the article addresses concerns with health risks associated with juice, parents may also want to consider what habits we are instilling in our children. Children develop habits in two ways: engaging in a behavior and watching someone else engage in a behavior.
When we offer juice, we are setting our children’s body to crave sugar when they are actually thirsty. Children develop habits faster than adults. I gave my son some juice when he was sick at age 1 1/2 and asked for more juice for a week straight! At age 2, he still spys the juice boxes at the supermarket and reaches for them.
Children are master observers and learn from us daily. When they see us drinking soda and juice, they learn that this is what we “should” drink. Our choices and behaviors, more than our words, are what sets our children’s expectations of what is acceptable.
I am not saying that we, as parents, can only drink water in front of our children. I am simply saying that we should think about how our behaviors have an impact on our children.
Creating New Habits
But my child loves juice! Of course she does. Children’s taste buds are designed to prefer sweet tastes. Once your child is beyond the milk only stage, you can introduce fruits in mashed or pureed form. If you prefer the BLW approach, fruit can easily be cut into an easy handheld form. For older toddlers, try keeping cut up fresh fruit in the fridge. My son loves to open the fridge and grab a container of cut up grapes after daycare. It’s confidence boosting for him and easy for me which is a win/win in my opinion!
The next time you are out to eat, consider ordering water. Let your toddler take sips out of your straw. Order him or her his own straw cup with a little water. Straws are great ways to promote muscle development in the mouth that lead to word pronunciation! Talk about how yummy it is and how good water is for our body. Use this time as a teachable moment.
Some other ideas to encourage the value of water is to have your child refill water in the family pet bowl. Talk about the differences in how the pets drink water and humans drink water.
What other ideas do you have to encourage the value of water in your littles?
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