Babies diets consist of very few constituents; they are mostly understood as healthy doses of fruit mush along with either milk or formula. One of the most common elements in a babies’ diet is fruit juice, and although it has been understood as a staple in the infantile food pyramid, some doctors say that it is not as healthy as we may have once thought.
According to a recent New York Times article, the American Academy of Pediatrics has “advised parents to avoid 100 percent fruit juice for babies younger than 6 months.” This may come as a shock to many, as the image of a baby drinking a bottle of apple juice is as fundamental as any.
This common misconception can have some real consequences, however, as outlined by Dr. Elsie M. Taveras, chief of the division of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston. One of the primary concerns in giving infants under one-year- old fruit juice of any kind, even 100 percent fruit juice, is that they can act as a type of “gateway drink”. There are studies indicating that infants who drink more juice in infancy are more prone to drink soda and sugary beverages later in life. This risk, along its classification by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a drink with “no nutritional benefits early in life”, makes grabbing for that carton of apple juice seem a lot more dangerous than it has seemed before.
While facts may back up this scientific consensus, there may still be many who refuse to accept a practice that has been understood as cultural fact. I know when I asked my mom if I had been given fruit juice as an infant, there was not a second of hesitation before a calm “of course, why wouldn’t I?”. Even as I explained the statement procured by the American Academy of Pediatrics, there was still some hesitation in her eyes, and the rest of my family disregarded the information entirely.
Some practices are so ingrained into our daily lives that it seems absurd to change them even in the face of cold hard evidence, like the old practice of giving teething babies a few drops of whiskey to soothe their pain. These practices make their way into our daily habits, to the point where having juice with breakfast seems necessary.
Despite experts like Dr. Man Wai Ng from the Boston Children’s hospital stating that “one hundred percent fruit juice should be offered only on special occasions, especially for kids who are at high-risk for tooth decay”, we still see portrayals of fruit juice as part of a healthy balanced breakfast over all genres of media. They make their way into our commercials and television shows, it is shown so often that any negative connotation that could potentially be aligned with it disappears. Despite the deep roots that juice drinking as young children has in our culture today, it’s spot is not an unchangeable one.
In the face of this statement made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is a prime chance to change the cultural facts that have been written through the generations. Just as the image of the smoking father or mother has largely disappeared from our minds, perhaps the visual of babies drinking juice can as well.
Avoiding sugary drinks like fruit juice and opting for either whole fruit (when able) or sticking to formula/milk is a healthy change that needs to be implemented on a societal level. So remember next time to push apple juice to the back of the shelf, not into your pantry!
Designs By: Courteney Lisowski