Is it safe for babies and toddlers to drink apple cider?
The answer is yes, and no.
Most apple cider found at grocery stores is pasteurized so it is safe for babies and toddlers to drink.
However, if you go to a local apple orchard and get their fresh pressed cider, the odds are 99 to 1 that the cider is not pasteurized. If the cider is not pasteurized then it is not considered safe for babies or toddlers to drink. This is a common recommendation – don't let your little ones drink unpasteurized apple cider.
Pasteurized Apple Cider = Safe
Unpasteurized Apple Cider = Not so much
Because unpasteurized cider could also pose health issues and risks to babies under the age of 12-24 months, it's always recommended that you check with your pediatrician about this.
Have you ever seen the way apple cider is made? We have been to a few orchards that have had a plexiglass wall surrounding their cider presses. I think this feature is a big mistake because watching them press and mush and slosh the apples around in the vats was a bit unsettling and looks quite unsanitary too.
Our mature tummies are [better] equipped to handle the bacteria and pathogens that can contaminate fresh unpasteurized cider but for little ones, even the slightest contamination could cause health issues.
Until your little one is over 2 yrs of age (some say 1 year of age) buy that fresh pressed cider for the bigger kids and get the pasteurized cider from your local grocery store.
Always be sure to read the labels thoroughly as during the Fall, fresh pressed local orchard cider is found in many grocery stores!
Should babies and toddlers even drink fruit juice or apple cider?
Offering juice to babies and toddlers is not necessarily a good thing to do. Juice is full of (natural and added) sugars and doesn't contribute much at all to overall health and nutrition. One of the biggest "dangers" of juice is that if babies and toddlers drink too much of it, they may not drink their bottles or nurse fully or eat their foods.
It is entirely up to you whether or not you let your little ones who are over the age of 2 years, drink apple cider or juice. My kids always enjoyed a very small bit of apple cider when they were toddlers but seldom ever drank juices.