Before the age of 6 months, your baby doesn't need to drink water, juice or any other beverage, and that includes fruit juice such as cranberry juice. Once your baby reaches the age of 6 months, you can start introducing solid foods, as well as certain beverages. Before offering your little one her first sip of cranberry juice, however, learn the recommendations regarding babies and juice.
When the Time Is Right
Before your baby reaches 6 months of age, the only food she needs is breast milk or formula, according to HealthyChildren.org. This is because breast milk and formula are complete sources of nutrition and supply your little one with everything she needs for good health and proper growth. Cranberry juice isn't as nutritious as breast milk or formula and won't supply your baby with all of the key nutrients she needs. Once your baby is 6 months old, you can safely let her drink juice, but realize that it has no additional nutritional value compared to serving fresh fruit, HealthyChildren.org reports.
How Much Juice?
While cranberry juice is safe for most babies after 6 months old, it doesn't mean you should let your baby have unlimited amounts. Many brands of cranberry juice contain added sugar, which your baby doesn't need, and that drives up the calorie count without also providing nutrients such as fiber. According to KidsHealth, drinking too much juice leaves your baby at a higher risk of unhealthy weight gain, tooth decay and diarrhea. Instead, serve your baby no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice each day, which doesn't contain any added sugar and is a more nutritious option than fruit-flavored juice drinks.
Best Ways to Serve Juice
If you do choose to let your baby have small amounts of juice, serve it in a cup, such as a sippy cup, rather than a bottle, KidsHealth recommends. Sucking on a bottle of juice can put your baby at an increased risk for tooth decay, a 2001 article published in "Pediatrics" reports. Don't let your baby nurse a cup of juice for the entire day, either, because it can interfere with hunger and cause your little one to have less of an appetite for nourishing foods such as breast milk, formula and baby food purees. Also, don't use juice for the treatment of diarrhea or dehydration, the article in "Pediatrics" cautions. Juice isn't an effective treatment and can actually make diarrhea worse.
Though a small amount of juice can have a place in your baby's healthy diet, other beverages can provide more in the way of nutrition. Breast milk and formula are, of course, the most nutrient-dense beverages to feed your baby and can be her primary source of fluids until her first birthday. Once you introduce solid foods into your baby's diet, you can also give her small amounts of plain water, HealthyChildren.org notes. When your baby reaches her first birthday, whole milk is a nutritious option that supplies key nutrients such as protein and calcium. Don't serve cow's milk before your baby's first birthday.