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Should baby's juice be diluted?
Q: I’m confused about when to start juice with my baby, and whether I should dilute it or offer it full strength. Also, I don’t want my baby to get tooth decay from juice. Can you help?
A: There are a lot of mixed messages about when to start foods other than breast milk or formula. The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is not to start any other foods until after baby is 6 months old. Babies are still growing inside during the first year, and they aren’t always able to digest foods easily before 6 months. All of the necessary nutrients are found both in breast milk and formula to take your baby safely through this period.

Regarding juices, we recommend starting with an apple or grape based juice diluted with water. This would mean ½ ounce juice to ½ ounce water. This is less stressful on baby’s digestive system and decreases the possibility of diarrhea or rashes. If your baby is able to tolerate the juice, you can start to increase the strength by ¼ percent after a few days. Watch for face or fanny rashes as an indicator that your baby is not able to tolerate the increased strength.

Avoid citrus juices before 9 months. Citric acid is too strong for most babies to tolerate earlier. Again, follow the dilution procedure.

Please make sure that you are giving only 100 percent juice – no juice “drinks,” which usually only contain 20 percent fruit juice or less. Infant juice is full strength and is strained to go through bottle nipples. Since you will be feeding from a cup, purchasing more expensive infant juices is not necessary. Juice should never be used as a substitute for breast milk or formula. Your baby still needs 32 ounces of either each day. That’s six to eight breastfeeding sessions every 24 hours of at least 15 minutes of active suckling.

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant