Fruit juice has been in the media a lot recently and as a Mum/Dietitian it’s something I often get asked about.
It’s true that many adults and children struggle to achieve their “5 a day” and it could be argued that fruit juice is a one vehicle for getting more fruit into our diets. However, a lot of attention has recently been directed, by the Department of Health, at the high levels of sugar in fruit juice and how fruit juice is one of the main sources of sugar in the UK diet. Kids do love fruit juice and according to recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) data fruit juice accounts for 9% of the sugar intake in 4-10 year olds (soft drinks were 11%).
Essentially, sugar is sugar, whether it is added to your food or from natural sources. Sugar has been linked with addiction, weight gain, obesity and diabetes. Fruit juice is also strongly associated with tooth decay. Currently 150ml of pure fruit juice counts as a maximum of one of your “5 a day” and smoothies count only as 2 of your 5 a day but it looks like the government may be soon revising these guidelines and recommended we drink less.
My top tip
Do offer your child the occasional glass of diluted fruit juice but otherwise give water as their main drink.
Do you think your baby might have an allergy to milk? Not sure what to look for and how it is managed?
Last week a few dietitians came together with the Anaphylaxis Campaign and some parent support groups to tweet about cow’s milk allergy. 2-4% of children in the UK are affected by it and many of them are misdiagnosed or mismanaged for many months. Some good information was shared in the hour long twitter chat including tips for weaning and where to go for support. The twitter chat is well worth a read if you want to know more.
To read the full twitter chat: Cow’s Milk Allergy
- This is the best drink alternative to milk.
- Before 6 months boil tap water (from the mains tap in the kitchen) and allow it to cool before serving. If you are abroad and unsure of the water quality, do boil the water before giving it to your little one.
- Bottled water is not a better alternative to tap water as it is not usually sterile. It may also have high levels of minerals such as sodium.
- Cow’s Milk – Before 1 year, formula and breastmilk are the best drink options as cow’s milk does not have enough iron. You can use full fat cow’s milk in cooking. After 1 year, you can introduce whole cow’s milk as a main drink.
- Follow-on milk – These milks are marketed at babies over 6 months as these have higher amounts of protein and some minerals. There is no need to change to follow on milk as your baby should be getting these additional nutrients from solid food.
- Pasteurised sheep’s and goat’s milk are also not advised before 1 year
- Rice milk should not be offered at all until 5 years old to reduce exposure to inorganic arsenic.
- There is no need to offer fruit juice at all if your baby is eating fruit. The longer you can avoid offering sweetened drinks the better.
- If you do offer fruit juice, please ensure it is well diluted with water – 1 part juice to 10 parts water.
- Squashes, flavoured milk, fizzy drinks and juice drinks should be avoided due to their sugar content.
- Drinks with sweeteners should also not be offered (check any labels that say ‘no added sugar’!).
- Tea and coffee are not suitable as they reduce iron absorption.
TOP TIP: Water or milk are the best drinks to offer at meal times
As you progress with solids, your baby will be thirsty at meals times. Offer your baby some sips of water during the meal.
Before 6 months
Exclusive breastfeeding or formula milk
Help your baby learn to sip and not suck. Introduce a lidded free-flow beaker with two or three small holes. This is a new skill so you may want to hold the beaker and gently tip it so your baby gets small amounts at a time. Over time they will learn to hold it themselves. Non-spill (valved) beakers are not recommended as your baby does not learn how to sip.
From 7 months you can start to decrease the amount of milk you give your baby as they start to eat more solid food. Outside of meals you can continue with breastfeeding/bottle feeds (approximately 600ml/day) until 1 year of age. During meals offer sips of water from an open cup. Some babies find the doidy cup as a good transition to the open cup. As your baby masters the beaker or cup you may want to offer milk feeds in this instead of a bottle. When out and about you can also start to offer water from a beaker.
From 1 year, your little one no longer needs a bottle. Continued bottle use is associated with tooth decay and may delay speech development.
TOP TIP: Be prepared learning to drink can be very messy!