Fruit juices can contain a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your child’s growth. Unfortunately, many of them also contain a lot of sugar that isn’t good for your little one. Looking for the right juices and using them wisely is the best way to make smart juice choices.
Read the Label
The label on a container of juice will tell you everything you need to know to decide whether or not it’s a smart choice for your child. Look for juices that are 100% juice. Most of these feature this information prominently on the front, if in fact they are 100% juice. The top of every juice nutrition label will give you a percentage, if it isn’t right on the front.
You should also check for added sugar, which may appear in the form of high fructose corn syrup or other versions of sugar used to sweeten commercial products. Choose a juice that has no added sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners aren’t a good choice for kids, so skip anything that is labeled as “diet” or “light”. Be wary of juices that say “no sugar added” as well, check to the label to ensure they haven’t replaced sugar with an artificial sweetener such as aspartame or sucralose.
Anything that is labeled as a “juice beverage” or “juice drink” probably doesn’t contain much juice. No matter how much nutrition these drinks are fortified with, they simply aren’t a healthy choice, so avoid them altogether. 100% juice products that have been fortified with extra nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D are a smarter choice.
Some new juices on the market provide a blend of fruit and vegetable juices, which can up the nutritional value of the juice by quite a bit. As with fruit juices though, make sure you choose one that is 100% juice and doesn’t contain and added sweeteners.
Making Your Own Juice
With many powerful and affordable juicers on the market today, making your own juice at home is a healthier alternative to purchasing juice in a jug at the store. It allows you to add your own blend of nutritious fruits and vegetables, and to know exactly what goes into your juice. This is an especially popular option if you prefer to serve organic juice, as it is much cheaper to juice your own organic fruits and vegetables than to buy organic juices.
It can be a bit time consuming and some vegetables that don’t contain a great deal of juice might be required in bulk to make it worthwhile, but if you do plan to make juice a part of your baby’s diet, you simply can’t beat homemade for nutritional value and freshness.
Whether you choose to use store bought juice or make your own, keep in mind that juice should not replace eating fresh, whole fruits and vegetables as a source of nutrition in your baby’s diet. Even homemade juice can’t provide everything your baby needs, and too much juice can wreak havoc on a baby’s digestive system. Pick juices wisely, and make sure your baby isn’t replacing other important foods and beverages – particularly if your baby is still nursing or taking formula – with juices. If your baby develops diarrhea, back off on the juice and discuss it with your pediatrician before offering juice again.