Ask The Expert is a weekly column on Littlestomaks.com. The idea is to have a reader-submitted question answered by a nutrition expert or a pediatrician. Feel free to submit your question in the comments section below.
This week, published author and Reflux expert Jan Gambino explains why giving fruit juice to a child with reflux may cause problems.
Question: Is apple juice really all that bad for a child who has Gastroesophageal Reflux? What about orange juice?
A toddler with Gastroesophageal Reflux may naturally limit her intake of all juices, including apple juice and orange juice due to the high acidity in these beverages. She may have discovered through trial and error that juice causes painful acidic backwashing into her esophagus and throat. In addition, the extra sugar and fluid in her stomach may cause bloating and discomfort. If your child with reflux craves juice despite the pain, you may need to limit juice intake, offer watered down juice or slowly switch to water only. If your toddler has severe Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), the doctor may recommend total elimination of acid foods and drinks such as juice from the diet. It is always best to ask your doctor for advice on feeding your toddler with reflux.
My toddlers with reflux were also severely lactose intolerant so they were not eager to drink milk. Even lactose free milk and toddler nutritional beverages were not tolerated. They did like watered down apple juice but there was barely any nutritional benefit. Eventually, water became the beverage of choice and they had to get their nutrients from calcium rich foods and a multivitamin.
I know many parents are grateful to have toddler juices fortified with calcium and vitamins. While these beverages offer the advantage of dairy free calcium and other nutrients, the added sugar and risk of tooth enamel erosion associated with juice intake need to be taken into account. With concern about juice and soda consumption adding to the obesity epidemic all parents need to be concerned about juice intake and a healthy diet.
Whether your child has reflux or not, water or watered down juice is the best option to stay hydrated.
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Disclaimer – Information provided in Ask The Expert column on Littlestomaks.com is intended to give you general guidance on a question related to toddler nutrition. It is not meant to be treated as medical advice. You are welcome to contact this expert for a detailed consultation on your specific situation to determine what actions, if any, you should take regarding nutrition and health of your toddlers. We do not recommend you to take any action based solely on the information presented in this column. Experts have agreed to provide their professional opinion on toddler nutrition related questions on a voluntary basis and no compensation is offered to them by Littlestomaks.com.