What Is the Best First Juice to Give a Baby?

The diet given to babies plays a crucial role in their growth. It’s important to breastfeed them to gain the nutrients their bodies need to grow and develop. Health professionals recommend that breast milk is the best form of food and nutrition you can give babies during the first six months. You can introduce solid foods and purees besides milk from that point on. You may be wondering if you can give juice to your baby and what’s the best first juice to give.

When to Give Babies Juice

Orange juice in a mason jar

When you start giving your baby foods besides milk, you must carefully plan their meals and introduce only certain food groups to them. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you can start giving your baby solids between four and six months or as soon as the baby shows signs of readiness to eat solid foods.

It’s also equally important to know about food items and drinks that you must avoid giving your baby. Traditionally, juice has been a widely accepted drink for babies. Previously, the AAP advised avoiding feeding juice to infants up to six months of age. However, due to higher sugar levels and lack of enough nutritional content of fruit juice, the AAP has released an updated recommendation and guidelines regarding feeding babies juices. According to the AAP, babies must not be given fruit juice at any time during their first year of life. Fruit juice may not be able to give enough nutrition in terms of vitamins and minerals that babies need.

Juice intake, like water intake, can interfere with breastfeeding. As the baby drinks more juice – especially those younger than six months old – they are filled up, so they nurse less. The AAP says there isn’t any nutritional indication to feed juice to infants younger than six months. Offering juice before solids are introduced could risk having juice replace breast milk or formula in the diet. Even in hot climates, water and juice are unnecessary for breastfed infants. Introducing juice for babies that young may introduce allergens and contaminants.

The new policy also states that older babies can only consume fruit juice in limited quantities and not drink it as a substitute for milk or plain water. This recommendation is based on the fact that whole fruit is considered more superior in nutrition than fruit juice, which concentrates the sugar. Plus, whole fruit is more satisfying, can fill a baby up more easily, and it’s a much better way to get all the fiber and minerals.

If you want to “juice” the fruits, it’s better to puree them and feed them to six months of age and above babies. After the first year, toddlers between the age of one to three can have four ounces of juice a day. Children of ages 4-6 should have no more than six ounces, and children and teens ages 7-18 must not drink more than eight ounces a day.

Like any other solid food, you have to offer juice separately. It’s best to offer the juice from a cup rather than a bottle and offer it only with meals. UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends diluting one part juice to 10 parts water or using the juice just to flavor water. Sweetened teas are associated with causing dental problems. Teas, herbal teas, and other drinks also have no benefit to an infant and could be harmful.

Potential Hazards of Too Much Juice

A glass of carrot juice

If you let your baby drink juice, they would probably like it because it’s sweet. Babies have a tendency to like sweet foods and drinks because milk is sweet. And since babies don’t know the concept of self-control yet, they would crave it more if you gave them a taste. Here are some risks and hazards of giving your baby too much juice:

Giving them too much juice can cause anemia or undernourishment, as a child can miss out on other necessary nutrients like proteins and complex carbohydrates. Undernourishment during the first year of a baby’s life can affect their mind and body development.

Fruit juices, especially store-bought ones, contain high levels of fructose as sweeteners, which may cause gas and stomach distress, and restlessness in babies. Young children and babies also have difficulty breaking down carbohydrates, including sugars, so giving them juices will put their bodies to a lot of work at a very young age.

According to some studies, consumption of fruit juice more significant than 12 fluid ounces a day by young children has been associated with excessive weight gain, obesity, and short stature, because of the large amount of sugar and calories. According to a study, toddlers who regularly consume fruit juice at age two have a higher risk of developing obesity or becoming overweight as early as four years old.

There is a risk of developing cavities later in life if a baby drinks too much fruit juice since it’s high on concentrated sugar.

Drinking too much apple, pineapple, and fruit juices can cause loose bowel movements and constant diarrhea, as they are devoid of the fiber element present in fruit juices.

Unpasteurized juices may contain harmful bacteria like salmonella and e-coli.

What Juice to Give to Babies

Juices can be given to babies – the key is to avoid overdoing it and don’t give it when they are too young. If you want to give your baby a treat, you can introduce juices made of fresh ingredients. Avoid tinned or packaged fruit juices since they’re high in sugar and low in nutritive value.

Here are some of the best juice to start a baby on:  

  • Boiled apple juice
  • Tender coconut water
  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Watermelon juice (raw, without seeds)
  • Boiled carrot juice
  • Boiled tomato juice
  • Boiled pear juice
  • Boiled peach juice
  • Grape juice (raw)
  • Muskmelon juice (raw)
  • Papaya juice (raw)
  • Banana juice (raw)
  • Mango juice (raw)
  • Lychee juice (raw)

Things to Remember When Giving Juice to Babies

  • When starting to feed baby juice, use a cup and spoon instead of a bottle. Start with small portions, maybe two tablespoons a day.
  • Dilute the juice – don’t give it in full flavor to your baby.
  • Start with juices made of a single fruit or vegetable so that her digestive system can get used to it.
  • If you’re feeding the baby with processed baby juice, make sure it’s pasteurized.
  • Don’t use the juice to supplement or substitute either water, solid food, and milk.
  • For babies at six to seven months, juice should be made of boiled fruits and vegetables. Babies this young must also be observed for reactions or allergies, so it’s wise to use diluted juice.
  • At eight months, babies’ juice can be raw but must be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Give juice along with solid foods so your baby can absorb the extra nutrients easily.