Are squash and pure fruit juice better for children than fizzy drinks?

Like fizzy drinks, fruit juice and squash can be high in sugar, which can cause tooth decay and lead to obesity. The best drinks to give children are:

  • water
  • milk
  • milkshakes without added sugar

Unsweetened 100% fruit juice

When juice is extracted from the whole fruit to make fruit juice, sugar is released. Sugar can damage your child’s teeth and cause tooth decay, especially if they:

  • sip fruit juice from a bottle
  • drink fruit juice often

The acid that fruit juice contains can also wear away the enamel on your child’s teeth and cause tooth decay.

However, fruit juices contain valuable vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, which may help the body to absorb iron.

Pure, unsweetened, fresh 100% fruit juice can count towards the five portions a day of fruit and veg that your child should have by the time they’re five. A 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as one of their 5 a day portions. However, only one glass a day counts, and any additional glasses of juice don’t count towards their daily total.

If your child drinks fruit juice, it’s better to limit it to mealtimes. This is better for your child’s teeth than drinking it between meals.

Drinks with added sugar

Drinks that can contain added sugar include:

  • squashes
  • juice drinks
  • fizzy drinks
  • flavoured milks
  • milkshakes

These drinks can cause tooth decay and most contain very few nutrients. They can also be filling. This could reduce your child’s appetite for foods that contain the nutrients they need.

Diluting squash well with water will make it less sugary, and it’s better to keep it to mealtimes.

Healthier drinks for children

If your children like drinking milk, this is a good choice, especially if they don’t like plain water. Milk isn't bad for teeth. It also contains calcium as well as other vitamins and minerals.

Try making your own milkshakes and smoothies by blending soft fruit, such as banana, strawberries or mango, with milk or yoghurt. This can also be a good way to encourage children to eat fruit.

For information about drinks for children under five, see Babies and toddlers: drinks and cups.

Read the answers to more questions about children’s health.

Further information:

 

Introducing other foods

Linda and Heidi have fed their babies breast milk for six months. Now their babies are ready to try their first solids. See how they get on in this video by Best Beginnings.

Media last reviewed: 12/06/2012

Next review due: 12/06/2014

Page last reviewed: 05/07/2013

Next review due: 04/07/2015