When Can My Baby Have Juice?

Little girl licking her lips

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Juice may seem like a healthy drink to give babies. After all, it is made from fruit, which has many nutritional benefits. Additionally, there are many tasty juice options with no added sugar. You may wonder whether juice counts towards your baby's daily recommended fruit servings. In fact, fruit juice is not recommended for babies, not even if it is free of added sugars.

Babies under age 1 should not have any fruit juice in their diets at all. Upon turning 2, they should be limited to 4 ounces per day, with the rest of their recommended daily fruit coming from whole fruits. "[The first year of life] is a time for learning to eat table foods, and nutrition should come from breastmilk or formula," notes Sarah Skovran, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian nutritionist and
ACE-certified personal trainer with a private practice in Maine.

Is Juice Safe for My Baby?

Babies should not have any fruit juice during the first year of life. Juice has no nutritional benefits to babies, and the sugar in juice is linked to dental problems and obesity later in life. Instead of juice, serve fresh, whole fruit.

Drinking juice may also lead to malnutrition in babies. "Before age 1, juice adds up extra calories that do not carry the balanced nutrition in mother’s milk and formula," explains Harland Adkins, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, and the founder and CEO of Fast Food Menu Prices.

After they turn 1, babies can have a small amount of juice, but no more than 4 ounces per day. Juice lacks fiber and other nutritional benefits of whole fruit, and it contains an unhealthy amount of sugar.

Juice should generally not be used to treat your baby's dehydration or diarrhea, either. That said, always follow your pediatrician's advice when your child is ill.

Risks of Giving Baby Juice Too Soon

Giving juice to a baby under age 1 is not recommended because the various risks posed outweigh any benefits. Juice may contain some vitamins, but these same vitamins can also be found in whole fruits. Additionally, juice may hydrate, but babies should get their hydration from breastmilk or formula. Even after that, the primary hydration sources should be water and unflavored milk or plant-based milks.

The following are some risks of giving your baby juice earlier than recommended.

Digestive Issues

The juicing process removes most of the dietary fiber from fruit. This is problematic because not getting enough fiber may lead to constipation in babies and children.

Alternatively, juice may cause diarrhea, due to your baby ingesting high amounts of fructose when drinking it. Diarrhea may lead to dehydration, which may affect cognitive functioning as well as babies' physical health.

Increased Risk of Overweight

Juice has a high sugar content, even when there is no added sugar. Diets high in sugar may lead to childhood obesity or obesity later in life.

Obesity puts children at risk of a host of problems, including breathing problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical discomfort, type 2 diabetes. It also puts kids at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and they are more likely to be overweight as adults.

Tooth Decay

Juice with added sugar may contribute to tooth decay in children. Interestingly, one study showed that children and adolescents who drank 100% fruit juice (without added sugar) did not see increased tooth erosion, but adults who drank 100% percent juice did. It's hard to say what this means for babies' teeth, but it is still best to avoid juice.

It is especially not recommended to give juice to your baby before bed or in a sippy cup that they can access at will. In both cases, the baby's teeth will not get brushed soon enough after coming into contact with the juice, putting them at risk of tooth decay.

Poor Nutrition

Babies may not drink enough breastmilk or formula if they consume other liquids. This may lead to them not getting the nutrients they need to grow properly and function at their best.

When and How to Introduce Juice

Wait until your baby is at least 1 year old before introducing fruit juice. It should be 100% juice, either fresh or reconstituted, and it should be pasteurized.

Serve juice in a cup, not a bottle. Toddlers tend to drink a larger volume of liquids from the bottle, and they should be transitioning away from bottles at this age. Avoid giving juice in sips throughout the day. "The best way to introduce juice to your baby is when they are eating their meal," notes Adkins.

Juice is not required, and if you do serve it to your child over age 1, keep it to a limited amount. "Juice can provide some vitamins and hydration, but in general solid fruits are a better choice as they also provide fiber, some protein, and practice with eating," notes Skovran.

What Amount of Juice Should I Give My Baby?

Serve your 1 to 3 year old a maximum of 4 ounces of juice each day. After they turn 4, stick to 4 to 6 ounces daily. Going forward after age 6, fruit juice should make up no more than one serving of the daily required servings of fruit.

Amount of Juice to Give Your Baby, Based on Age
Under 1 year old No juice at all
1 to 3 years old No more than 4 ounces per day
4 to 6 years old No more than 4 to 6 ounces per day

A Word From Verywell

Babies under age 1 should not drink any type of juice, and breastmilk and formula should be the main sources of hydration. Water and unflavored milk or plant-based milks (as well as breastmilk if desired) should be the primary liquids for toddlers.

At age 1, babies can drink up to 4 ounces of fruit juice daily. Stick to this amount until age 4, when you can give them 4 to 6 ounces. Always reach out to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about feeding your baby juice.

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13 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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