• Children's Center

    Fruit Juice: Good or Bad?

glasses of tropical juices
SPARTA, Wis. — Figuring out the best choices for your child’s diet can be an intimidating process. With so much information out there, how are you supposed to know what the best options are? One common question concerning kids’ diets is whether or not it's OK to give them fruit juice and, if so, how much is too much?

“Choosing 100 percent fruit juice can be a nice alternative to sweetened juices, helping cut back on your child’s sugar intake,” advises Cathy Ziegler, nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System in Sparta, Wis.children drinking fruit juice

Studies have shown that drinking moderate amounts of 100 percent fruit juice doesn’t contribute to kids’ weight gain. However, it’s important not to serve too much fruit juice — as with any caloric beverage, it can cause weight gain if served too often.

So, what’s the proper amount to serve? This table from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the America Heart Association should help:

  • Birth - 6 months: No fruit juice, except to relieve constipation
  • 6 months – 6 years: 4-6 ounces a day
  • 7 years and older: 8-12 ounces a day

If you’re having trouble getting your child to eat well during meals, don’t serve them any liquids 30 minutes before meals.

Six ounces of 100 percent juice equals one serving of fruit, but the juice lacks the fiber of whole fruit. Ziegler says, “A reasonable amount of fruit juice each day is fine for most children, but the healthiest option would be whole fruit.”