One of the greatest things about being a parent is witnessing your baby’s developmental milestones. From the first “dada” or “mama,” first smiles, first crawls, first stand to the first walk, it’s really fulfilling to see a baby grow and learn new things. Yet, there are also particular developments that you, as a parent, must introduce. Among these is transitioning from breast milk or formula to various food and drinks like juices.
While juices have been traditionally accepted to be given to babies and toddlers, knowing when to offer them and how to offer them can be very tricky. Not to mention that determining the proper amount and ratio of water to juice can also be perplexing. All worries are understandable, as you only want to be safe when giving your baby’s first juice.
To help you out, let’s take a look at all the things you need to know about introducing your baby to fruit juice.
When Can Your Baby Have Juice?
Your baby should only have breast milk or formula for the first six (6) months (though it’s advisable to keep them under breastfeeding for up to a full year, says the American Academy of Pediatrics). If your baby is less than the age of 6 months, you should never give them water or solid foods, as they’re still too young for that.
For juices, the AAP recommends that babies under a year old must avoid juice altogether. An only exception is when a physician advises giving juice to relieve your baby from constipation. If not, you must wait until your baby is one year old before providing them juice.
Truth to be told, the recommended age for providing juice was over six months. However, various concerns prompted the shift to a full year. Breast milk and formulas already have enough to provide vitamins, nutrients, and minerals your baby requires for proper growth.
By avoiding the introduction of solid foods and other drinks, you allow the baby’s digestive system to mature properly and also decrease the risk of obesity. Plus, babies who’ve been exclusively breastfed for a year also have better immunity.
Moreover, juices can quickly make your baby’s tummy, but without the important nutrients, they need to develop. When that happens, you increase your baby’s risk for anemia, malnutrition, and other health and developmental problems. It’s also vital that your baby must already be eating solid foods prior to the introduction of juice. Otherwise, they may refuse breast milk and formula, leading to more issues.
How to Properly Introduce Juice?
If your baby is already a year old and you’ve done an excellent job providing them with solid foods to meet their nutrition requirements, now’s the time to give them their first juice. Don’t be too excited, though! Like with any other firsts, there are some points that you need to remember to ensure things work safe and great for your baby.
1. Ask your doctor.
Though juices are recommended for babies one year of age, it’s still best to talk to your doctor prior to introducing juice to your baby. Your doctor may see something from your baby’s history or your family’s health background that may prompt them to make you delay giving juice or refrain from them altogether. Through that, you’d know what’s best for your baby.
2. Place juice in cups and not in bottles.
Acid from juices is harsher than the sugar in milk, causing damage to the enamel of the teeth and resulting in tooth decay. As such, it’s important to offer juices to your baby from sippy cups rather than in bottles, as they tend to sit longer on your baby’s teeth in the latter. Dentists also suggest not to put your baby to sleep with a bottle, given that the sugars left on their teeth will most likely cause decay.
3. Introduce one juice at a time.
Same with having your baby try your new foods, it’s vital to have them try one type of juice at a time. For instance, you can begin by introducing apple juice or boiled carrot juice. The next time, you can give them grape juice or boiled instead. Once you’re done, you can start trying out different juice blends.
While it’s no longer advised to allow two to three days prior to introducing a new type of food or drink, doing so one at a time can quickly help you distinguish any unpleasant reactions or allergies in your baby.
4. Only give juice with meals.
Never give your baby juice alone, as they’d be happy to guzzle it all, leaving their tummy full. When that happens, they miss out on all the vitamins and nutrients they get from solid food. To avoid that, only offer juice as a complement during meals. Through that, you ensure that your baby is still able to get the nutrition they need while you’re able to incorporate juices into their diet.
What’s the Proper Amount and Ratio to Water of Juice for your Baby?
Now that you’re aware of when and how to introduce juice properly, let’s get on one of the crucial parts of offering juice to your baby – knowing the proper amount and ratio.
From the age of six months to three, it’s recommended that you only give your kid 4 oz. of juice a day. As they grow older, you can offer them gradually more, such as up to 6 oz. for 4 to 6-year-olds and 8 oz. for 7 oz. for 7-year-olds and older.
Be wary that there are various potential risks of drinking too much juice, such as anemia, malnutrition, loose bowel movements, and constant diarrhea. Babies may also find it hard to break down sweeteners, leading to gas and stomach distress. Meanwhile, over 12 oz. daily consumption for younger children has been linked to obesity, short stature, and failure to thrive. So, stay within limits to avoid any issues.
For the proper ratio of water to juice, it’s best to aim for 10-parts of water to 1-part of juice during the introduction. As juices tend to be flavorful, watering them down helps your baby adjust to the taste.
Soon, you can gradually add more juice while lowering the water content until you reach a 50/50 ratio with water. Though you can already give 100% fruit juice to your baby at one year of age and older, continuing with a diluted solution is more advisable to lessen the chances of obesity and tooth decay.
Juices are a great addition to your baby’s diet as long as you know the proper amount and ration and when and how to give them. However, remember that juices should only be a complement and never should be your baby’s main source of hydration and nutrition. Balance it all and have your baby’s lips and tummy enjoy the flavors of fruit and vegetable juices.