Another week, another children’s food story certain to leave lots of parents feeling seriously confused!
Fruit juice is one way to help your child reach the five portions of fruit and veg they need to eat each day, and to take in important nutrients like vitamin C.
But it’s easy to forget that fruit juice contains sugar too. This can contribute to tooth decay if children have too much, too often.
So here are my top tips about how to include fruit juice in your child’s diet:
Keep serving sizes sensible:
- For one- to five-year-olds, a typical serving is about 50ml of unsweetened fruit juice, diluted with the same amount of water. Give them this with a meal, not with snacks or between meals – this helps to protect their teeth from the sugar and fruit acids in the juice. Doing it this way also helps children to absorb iron from their meal, thanks to the vitamin C in the juice
- 150ml of unsweetened fruit juice for primary and secondary school-aged children is enough to give them one of their 5-a-day, and will give them all of their daily requirement for vitamin C. You can make the drink longer for an older child by mixing the juice with tap or sparkling water
- Remember – however much fruit juice a child drinks, it can only ever count as one of their 5-a-day. That’s because fruit juice doesn’t contain all the nutritional benefits (like fibre) of fresh fruit, so it’s worth sticking to just one glass a day, and encouraging kids to eat lots of other types of fruit and veg as well.
Watch out for ‘fruit juice drinks’: these often look very similar to fruit juice, and have a similar name, but usually contain only a small amount of fruit juice. Sometimes there’s added sugar or sweeteners in them too.
Ask if your childcare provider is using our guidelines for healthy food and drinks in early years settings: these recommend tap water and milk as the only drinks you should give young children between meals to protect their teeth, and that diluted fruit juice should only be provided at mealtimes.
Try school meals: the National School Food Standards recommend tap water, fruit juice and milk – or combination drinks using milk, fruit juice and water – as healthier options when they get to school age.
Claire’s one of our nutritionists – here to help anyone wanting advice on feeding children well. Email Claire.