Why an entry on juice? Fruit juice in moderation, like most things, is harmless and may even be beneficial. But so many parents seem to think juice is somehow critical for proper child nutrition, and misuse this food.
Some things to consider about juice:
A limit of about four ounces of juice a day seems OK for bottle feeders and breast feeders. Once you are using the cup, I think you could be a little more liberal, especially in the summer. But milk and water are the two best fluids all around for kids.
- Fruit juices are basically junk food, in the sense that they are sweets with no significant nutritional value beyond sugar (lots of that) and usually insignificant amounts of vitamins.
- The large amounts of sugar in juices suppress the appetite for more nutritious foods. Sugar is strongly habituating for kids (not truly addictive, but close). It is also habituating for the parents, who discover that whiney children shut up with a juice bottle in the mouth.
- The vitamins available in juices are much more reliably and easily obtained either by offering infant formula or by giving a liquid or chewable infant vitamin preparation.
- The acids produced by fermentation of sugar in the child's mouth literally dissolve away the very soft enamel of deciduous (baby) teeth. The toddler who constantly walks around with juice in a bottle winds up with unsightly rotten front teeth, which are replaced at great expense under general anesthesia with ugly silver crowns - which fall out at age six anyway.