Toddlers: How much apple juice for toddlers?

My son is almost three and I can't keep enough apple juice in the house! He usually consumes about nine ounces or so each day. Is this too much?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Unfortunately, apple juice supplies very little nutritionally. Some brands are fortified with Vitamin C, but other than that it hasn't much to offer.

Many parents offer apple juice as a source of liquid instead of water. It is full of calories and so by allowing a child to drink too much you risk them filling up on juice to the point where they do not have room to eat the other, more important foods.

I suggest that you begin to gradually cut back on the juice. At night time try diluting it to 50:50. Eventually get it down to straight water. During the day, dilute the juice, or better yet, offer milk or a more nutritious juice instead.

Since your son is three, you can get him involved in making some limited choices. for example, in the evening when he wants apple juice, tell him you don't have any more but that he can choose between a glass of orange juice or a glass of milk instead. This still gives him some control (power) over the situation but allows you to make sure his nutritional needs are being met.

If he can understand it, you may try telling him at the beginning of the day that he has "this amount of apple juice for the day" and then show him a full six-ounce jar. Let him decide when he will drink it, and how he will divide it up during the day. I would eventually get the amount he is allowed to drink down to six ounces a day. You probably won't be able to do it all at once, but depending on your son and his attachment to it you may be. Perhaps it is just the liquid he craves, and something more nutritious will do. Maybe you can get him to switch to water at night if you offer him a new and special cup to put it in. Experiment with different tactics.

Don't underestimate your son's ability to understand as you try to explain to him what you are doing. Involving him in the change may make him proud and more willing to cooperate. Some good alternatives to apple juice that you can let him choose from are: water; milk; orange juice; carrot juice or a mixture of carrot and fruit juice; yogurt-based drinks, such as a fruit smoothie where you combine in a blender some plain yogurt, ripe banana and any other fruit he likes; and homemade sodas that combine soda water with a splash of juice.

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