By Dr Rita Bakshi
Juices are considered to be very healthy and nutritious. The juices extracted from fresh fruits and vegetables supply minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, which support a healthy diet. Even though fresh juices have innumerable benefits for health, it is very essential to introduce your baby to juice only when the time is right.
When should juices be added to a baby’s diet?
The little ones are completely dependent for antibodies and nutrition on the breastfeed of the mother, which supplies adequate nutrition for the first six months. The baby is then gradually shifted to semi-solids. The baby can start consuming fresh juices of fruits and vegetables only after six months. But, it is essential that the baby should drink a very small amount of these juices as they have a high amount of sugar and salt.
The mother is advised to always dilute the juice with some water to ensure that the baby’s body doesn’t get excessive content of sugar and salts.
Fruits to include and avoid
The little one must be served with juices of raw fruits like orange, banana, apple, prune, pear, watermelon and muskmelon. The fruits that one should avoid are mango and papaya as they can lead to diarrhea.
How to serve juices to your baby
Juices should never be given to the baby in a bottle, but in a cup. This inculcates the habit of drinking from a cup. Also, since fruits are acidic in nature, which can lead to damage of the teeth, drinking the juice from a cup minimises this risk.
Some basic tips
- It is always advised to keep the quantity of the juice to the minimum until the baby turns one. The mother can gradually increase the portion as the baby grows. This is because large amounts of fruit juices can affect the quantity of solid foods leading to the child being undernourished. It can even lead to weight fluctuation and decreased appetite.
- The mother should always ensure that juice is homemade and vegetables and fruits are boiled before preparing juice. This substantially reduces the risk of the child to acquire unwanted diseases. Also, never add sugar to your baby’s juice.
- If the baby cannot sit or hold the cup, then use a cup and spoon to feed the juice.
- While you introduce juices, always begin with giving the juice of a single fruit or a vegetable. This will ensure that the digestive system of the baby stays normal.
- Juices can be a really nutritious substitute for water and milk for the baby. But it is also very important to carry out some of the above precautions to ensure proper development of your child.
(The writer is Senior Gynaecologist and IVF Expert, International Fertility Centre.)