Pediatricians say parents should limit juice

Sippy cups full of fruit juice are a staple in many homes with young children.

But, the country's largest pediatricians group is urging parents to cut back on giving their kids fruit juice.

Neha Bhat is a bit of an outlier.

Because, for as long as she can remember, she and her children Ishani and Kiran are have been fruit juice-free.

"We have always tried to avoid drinking juice in our family," Bhat says. "Just because I grew up drinking juice and had a lot of cavities and all kinds of things."

Pediatricians have long recommended kids drink water or milk instead of fruit juice. So, WebMD Medical Editor Dr. Hansa Bhargava, a mom to twins and practicing pediatricians, supports the new American Academy of Pediatric's updated guidelines that recommend infants under the age of 1 drink no fruit juice at all.

"And that's because breast feeding, or breast milk, or formula actually has a lot more nutrients such as protein and calcium and fatty acids for the developing brain and developing body," Dr. Bhargava says. "And juice doesn't have a lot of that. It has some sugar, some calories and maybe a little bit of nutrients."

The AAP recommends young children drink no more than 4 ounces, or a half a cup, of juice a day.

Older children and teens, the Academy says should drink no more than 8 ounces, or a cup, of juice a day.

Instead, the experts recommend parents push whole fruit, which has fiber and nutrients.

Bhat says her children drink primarily water, and eat fruit for snacks.

"So these guys are big into mango, so we cut up mango, strawberries, banana." Bhat says. "So fruit is definitely our snack alternative."

Dr. Bhargava says there are some simple ways to cut back on giving children fruit.

"First of all, offer water first," she says. "Try not to have juice in the house. Try water, and if they want something sweet, offer then a sliced apple. Or, try sliced oranges.

Or, Bhargava says, try flavoring water with piece of whole fruit.

"Cut them really small and mix them up into the water and filter them out and make it fun for the kids," she says.

If your child wants juice, Dr. Bhargava says, dilute it with water.

"It's definitely a challenge for parents to avoid the juice boxes at the birthday party and the juice boxes in the daycare," she says. "But I think if you start healthy habits early, hopefully you will get to the points where their automatic go-to will be water."

The AAP also recommends parents avoid giving children sippy cups of fruit juice to nurse on throughout the day, and stop sending them to bed with a sippy cup or bottle of juice.