Providing your baby with a healthy diet from the start is one way to help ensure that they get what they need to grow and develop to their full potential. While juicing vegetables is a trendy way for parents to up the nutrient intake for their babies, it's not necessarily the healthiest way to go for infants. Consult your pediatrician to discuss the use of fresh vegetable juice in your baby's diet.
No Need for Juice
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that babies do not need juice and should not be given any juice if they are under 6 months old. If you offer your baby juice after 6 months of age, you should put it in a cup, not in a bottle, and you should limit the amount to 4 ounces a day. However, it's important to note that the academy only mentions fruit juice, and as of June 2015 it has not released guidelines specific to vegetable juice.
Not As Nutritious
The reason that the American Academy of Pediatrics says no to juice is because it offers little nutritional value, especially when compared to the whole food from which the juice is made. While fresh vegetable juice may be a richer source of vitamins and minerals than bottled fruit juice, it's still not as nutritious as the whole vegetable because it's missing the fiber, much of the protein and essential fats. Plus, if given too much juice, your baby may not have much of an appetite for other foods.
Risk of Foodborne Illness
While you may consider fresh juice to be more nutritious than any juice you get from a bottle, it's not any safer. Juice you buy at the store is pasteurized to kill any bacteria that may make you sick. Fresh vegetable juice you make yourself could potentially harbor bacteria that may make your baby very sick, and may even be deadly.
Infants are much more susceptible to foodborne illness than adults are because of their immature immune systems, making them more vulnerable to any bacteria that may be in a fresh glass of juice.
Cooked Veggies Instead
For your baby's health and safety, you may be better off feeding baby food vegetables rather than juice. Veggies are a source of fiber, protein, vitamins A and C, folate and potassium for babies. If you prepare your own vegetables, wash them thoroughly, cook until tender, and puree or chop depending on your baby's stage of feeding development. Offering babies cooked vegetables may also help create healthy eating habits that last the rest of their lives.
- HealthyChildren.org: Water and Juice
- HealthyChildren.org: Where We Stand: Fruit Juice
- QuickandDirtyTips.com: Juicing: Healthy Habit or Blood Sugar Bomb?
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Talking About Juice Safety: What You Need to Know
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Why Is It Important to Eat Vegetables?
- Foodsafety.gov: Homemade Baby Food - Make It Safely