Handing your child a juice box might be easier than slicing up an apple. But for children under 1, it's the wrong move, according to pediatricians. Updated guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics state children under 1 shouldn't drink fruit juice "unless there is a strong clinical basis for it in the management of constipation," and older kids should drink it only sparingly, due to its high sugar content, report AAP News and the San Francisco Chronicle. The guidelines—which hadn't been updated since 2001—now set a daily limit of four ounces of juice for ages 1 to 3, six ounces for ages 4 to 6, and eight ounces for ages 7 and up. "We want kids to learn how to eat fresh foods," says the lead author of the new guidelines. "If you assume fruit juice is equal to fruit, then you're not getting that message."
While juice may provide vitamin C, vitamin D, and calcium, fresh fruit provides additional fiber, protein. Juice also leads to cavities and increased calorie consumption, pediatricians say, adding it should be eliminated from the diets of children with excessive weight gain. "We do try to encourage parents to think about juice as a sweet, just as you would soda," one pediatrician tells CNN. "When you isolate fruit into a liquid form, you're mostly getting sugar water," adds a nutritionist. The guidelines previously recommended no juice be given to kids younger than 6 months. However, "there really isn't any need or beneficial role for juice" in children under 1, a co-author of the guidelines says. (Tomato juice tastes different on a plane.)