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Squeeze on baby juices
Squeeze on baby juices

A leading Perth nutrition adviser has attacked the marketing of a new range of infant fruit juices that come in plastic bottles fitted with a teat.

Professor of public health Colin Binns, from Curtin University's faculty of health sciences, described Bebi drinks as outrageous, arguing young babies only needed breast milk or formula.

The product line includes white grape and apple and banana fruit juice and is marketed as specially formulated for infants.

Professor Binns said because the bottles came with teats it meant they were targeting babies, which went against national infant feeding guidelines.

The National Health and Medical Research Council is due to release updated guidelines in the next few months but its current advice is for babies to be exclusively breastfed until six months and then encouraged to breastfeed until 12 months or beyond.

According to the manufacturer's website, Bebi drinks have no added sugar, artificial flavours or colours but contain natural sugars. "We understand that while breastfeeding is always recommended, it isn't always possible," the site says. "We've created Bebi's line of infant drinks to help give parents the feeding convenience they need, no matter where they go."

But Professor Binns said the marketing of the products could confuse parents about what their babies should be drinking.

"We recommend that after the age of six months if you want to give a baby something extra it should be water and then it should be out of a cup," he said. "The NHMRC doesn't recommend giving juice to infants under 12 months of age. One danger is that it could displace breast milk or formula which contain a whole range of nutrients."

The Heart Foundation, which is running the LiveLighter anti- obesity campaign, said the products should not be sold.

WA chief executive Maurice Swanson said the drinks were being promoted, even indirectly, as a substitute for breast milk.

"I'm horrified that it will set up more kids for obesity and we all know that kids who are overweight go on to become overweight or obese adults," he said.

"Fruit juice is concentrated sugar because it takes quite a few oranges to produce even half a glass of juice, so we don't even encourage juice for older children and adults.

"You're far better off drinking water and eating a piece of fruit."