I have often stated in the past that one of my goals as a wife and mother is to find the best ways to healthfully nourish my family. There are some topics I found my stance on a while ago, but many I have to research, struggle with, and eventually answer for myself. As our little girl has gotten older and entered the toddler stage, I have had to settle the question (for our family), "Do I give her juice like so many parents do?"
When Harper was about 5 months old she showed a true "love" for drinking plain water. We were thrilled that she would guzzle it down without question, but wondered if it would last as she got older. Thankfully we cultivated her love for water, the trend has continued, and it has not been a battle. We have given her the occasional sips of orange juice from our glasses when we're out at restaurants for breakfast, but not much more than that. Many might argue that without juice their child may not be getting the vitamins they need. For us, this has simply been answered by the fact that our daughter has been excellent at eating her fruits and vegetables (another area that may be more of a battle for other families). I have settled on the fact that I'd rather my kids eat whole fruits and vegetables than drink them. After all, in comparison, fruit juice can have more sugar per serving and is less filling than whole fruit.
I recognize that this scenario may not the case for many families. Your child may not like plain water or eat their fruits and veggies the way you wish they would. If that is the case, I encourage parents to consider two things: 1) to buy 100% fruit juice when purchased, and 2) to be mindful about the portions/amounts of 100% juice your kids are consuming per day. In coming to some of these conclusions for my own family, I found a few websites helpful. The American Dietetic Association has a helpful handout on "The Role of 100% Juice in a Healthy Diet" where they reinforce the idea that, "while most fruit servings should come from whole fruits, a portion of the daily fruit intake can be from 100 percent fruit juice". This page is the website for the Juice Products Association, so read it with a "grain of salt" remembering they have a bias, however it does have some good reading on the subject. I also really liked this page for its reinforcement on balance and consumption of whole foods. I encourage you to explore these ideas and to make the best decision for your family. For our family, this means trying to stay as close to whole foods and the least amount of processing as possible. What will it be for you?