Did you know that offering juice to infants, especially under six months, has fairly little nutritional value and actually greatly increases risk of cavities?
Unfortunately, this is true.
While juices are often geared towards young children, these are typically harmful beverages for little ones in excess.
The problem with many juices is that they contain added sugar, greatly contributing to oral health problems. Even juices without added sugar often contain fruits high in fructose and/or are high in acidity which can be damaging for the teeth. Unfortunately, many parents find that these sugary beverages help keep their baby calm when they’re fussy, but in actuality, it’s harming their oral health.
Even worse, many children’s cups allow beverages the child is drinking to come in direct contact with the teeth, which is especially bad for a young infant who has no knowledge that letting juice sit on their gums or teeth can be harmful for their general oral health.
So, I shouldn’t give my child juices?
While juices can be harmful for infants’ and young children’s teeth, this isn’t to say that juices should be completely eliminated from your child’s life. In fact, moderation is necessary. It’s recommended that babies are given no more than half a cup of juice a day with the hope of keeping their gums and/or teeth healthy. Even better, fruit juices should be given on special occasion to children with developing teeth.
In addition to this, it’s important to opt for juices that contain 100% fruit juice, no added sugar. Some parents may find it useful to dilute their child’s juice with water, or to add a bit of fruit juice to water, to reduce the concentration of the sugary beverage. Keep in mind that water shouldn’t be given to your baby until at least six months of age.
Another reason why it’s important to limit your infant’s juice intake is to ensure your child has room for breast milk, formula, and/or baby food which are important parts of your baby’s diet. A diet should not be filled with just fruit juice. Give your baby a wide range of nutrients.
It’s important to remember that even if your child doesn’t have any teeth yet, drinking sugary fruit juices can still offer harm for the gums and future teeth, increasing oral bacteria in the mouth. Your child’s teeth, even if you can’t see them, are developing under the surface of your child’s mouth and require a healthy mouth to house them in the near future.
If you are to give your infant fruit juices, wash your baby’s gums thoroughly afterward (if they don’t yet have teeth), and/or lightly brush their teeth and gums with a baby toothbrush and fluoride-based toothpaste to ensure the sugars do not harm your baby’s teeth. However, be sure to wait at least a half hour before doing this as rubbing the acidic juice into your baby’s gums or teeth can increase cavity risk until the pH naturally neutralizes on its own.