Although children enjoy the sweet taste of juice, and moms praise them for the vitamins they contain, children should limit their consumption of the sugary beverage. Toddlers who drink more than 12 oz. of juice per day can develop dental problems and diarrhea, according to pediatric dentist Daniel Ravel. To keep your little one happy, and the dentist at bay, serve low-sugar juice in moderation to your toddler.
100 Percent Juice
If your child refuses to eat fruits and vegetables, offer juice to add vitamins and minerals from produce temporarily to his diet. For a low-sugar option, choose 100 percent juice, not artificially sweetened juice concentrate. For example, an 8-oz. glass of 100 percent orange juice contains 22 g of sugar, while a 10 percent orange juice concentrate has 38 g of sugar.
Because the sugar content varies among fruits and vegetables, some juices are naturally lower in sugar than others. Instead of offering your child sugary apple or pear juice, pediatrician Dr. William Sears recommends low-sugar white grape juice. The Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend offering 4 to 6 oz. of 100 percent juice per day for toddlers and children up to 6 years of age. Use a cup, not a bottle, to discourage tooth decay.
If your child begs for more juice, dilute her beverage. Fill her cup half full with cold water and half with 100 percent juice. While you're reducing the sugar content of her drink by half, you're also making it possible for her to have an extra cup of diluted juice during the day. If the toddler refuses the altered drink, blend the juice with flavored water, milk or cold herbal tea.
Although fruit juices offer vitamins and minerals, they rank low among healthy drink options for children. Start offering your toddler milk and water more often. An 8-oz. glass of low-fat milk contains just 11 g of sugar, compared with an 8-oz. glass of 100 percent orange juice, which contains twice as much sugar. To jazz up plain milk, stir in a small spoonful of sugar-free chocolate drink syrup. Or add an ice cube made of 100 percent juice to a cup of cold water.