If your child has gotten a taste of the latest brightly colored fruit juice blend, it may be hard to wrestle it out of his little fingers. Before you cave and give him a refill, there are some issues to consider on how this type of beverage can affect your child’s health, temperament and well-being.
As with other foods, beverages and candies, you should keep the sugar content in mind the next time you’re considering a juice purchase. Many juices on the market have added sugar -- and that’s on top of the naturally occurring sugars already found in fruit and vegetable juices. When your child consumes a sugary beverage, his blood sugar spikes and often results in a hyper kid running around at high speeds, or something along those lines. Then the inevitable sugar crash follows, leaving your child grumpy, cranky and tired. Steer clear of this scenario by handing over a glass of water instead.
Juice may have an effect on your child’s health and nutrition intake. Filling up on juice could temporarily satisfy your child’s hunger, and he may not be in the mood to eat more nutritious foods, especially at mealtimes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, excessive amounts of juice consumption could even lead to obesity. They suggest allowing your child to eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of just the juice, as these have more fiber and contain more nutrients in their natural form.
The juice that you pour into your child’s cup contains a high amount of sugar, which poses a tooth decay risk, especially if it’s allowed to sit on your child’s teeth for a while. One of the worst scenarios is allowing a young child to go to bed with a bottle full of juice. The juice’s sugars mix with saliva and bacteria, which then go to work making holes in your little one’s soft baby teeth. If you do choose to serve your little one some juice, water it down and have your child brush teeth afterward.
There is still plenty of debate over this issue, but it is worth noting that there is some question about artificial food coloring and its effect on children’s behavior. The FDA has suggested that some food coloring may increase hyperactivity in children that already have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Those brightly colored juices you find on the store shelves probably contain at least one or more artificial colors. Look at the ingredient labels to find a juice that has no additives or artificial food coloring to avoid this possible side effect.
Stick to 100 percent fruit juices instead of juices made with mostly water and sugar. Look closely at that label before purchasing. The AAP suggests refraining from giving juice to your child until she is at least 6 months old. Children 1 to 6 years old should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day. Seven- to 18-year olds should only have 8 to 12 ounces of juice daily. Try mixing water with juices to minimize any negative effects.