My girlfriend told me that I should not give my 2-year-old son more than a glass of fruit juice each day. My son really likes fruit juice. Why is it harmful?
As both a pediatrician and the co-author of a book on early childhood nutrition called Food Fights, I am so glad you asked this question. Your girlfriend is absolutely right when it comes to the current fruit juice recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics which reinforce that children between the ages of 1 and 6 should not be given more than 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice a day. While 100 percent fruit juice (or reconstituted juice) can be a healthy part of a well-balanced diet when offered in moderation, there's definitely a problem with parents perceiving it as nutritious and subsequently allowing too much of a "good thing."
Drinking fruit juice—even when it's 100 percent fruit juice—simply isn't as nutritious as eating whole fruit. Additionally, many parents mistakenly think that fruit drinks are as nutritious as fruit juice when they're unfortunately not. And finally, in answer to your question about why it is harmful, too much fruit juice can affect a toddler's overall health in many ways—from causing toddler diarrhea, gas, bloating, and/or tooth decay to decreasing a toddler's appetite and interfering with a well-balanced diet.