Does Cranberry Juice Help with UTI In Kids?

Does Cranberry Juice Help with UTI In Kids

Medical Content Reviewed & Edited by Rashmi Jain, MD




If your child has a UTI or, even more alarming, experiences recurrent urinary tract infections, it can be concerning for any parent. It’s understandable to try and look into ways to help your child feel better & prevent future UTIs. One common household remedy for helping resolve a child’s UTI symptoms is giving cranberry juice. Though there is some truth to the theory that cranberries help resolve & prevent recurrent UTIs, overall, the jury is still out. Below, we’ll delve into more information about UTIs in children and does cranberry juice help uti in kids, and what you can do to prevent your child from getting recurrent infections.


Any infection in the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys (altogether known as the urinary tract) is considered a urinary tract infection. These infections are generally bacterial and are much more common in girls than boys because girls have short urethras (entry to the inner urinary tract). For children younger than 6 years old, the rate of UTIs in girls is above 6 percent, but below 2 percent for boys. In children younger than 2, frequent UTIs can cause kidney scarring leading to permanent kidney damage, and should be treated aggressively.

Signs that your child could have a UTI include:

  • Fever
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Accidents or bedwetting in a potty-trained child
  • Vomiting or loss of appetite
  • Cloudy, bloody, or smelly urine

  • Abdominal, side, or back pain

  • Fussiness or Irritability in a young child

Call your pediatrician if you think your child might have a UTI. They will be able to perform a test to confirm a diagnosis and prescribe antibiotics if there is an infection.


Some children are prone to recurrent UTIs, and parents might be worried about the side effects of giving their children multiple courses of antibiotics. This often causes parents to look for solutions to prevent future UTIs. It’s a popular theory that cranberry juice or supplements will help in these cases, but concrete evidence of this is hard to come by. As a hard and fast rule, cranberry juice should not be used to replace antibiotics for treating your child’s infections.


Proanthocyanidins (PACs), the active ingredient in cranberry juice, have been shown to prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, which in turn would diminish their ability to grow into a bacterial infection. Though this is great information, most available cranberry drinks and supplements do not have enough concentration of PACs to make a difference. Concentrated cranberry juice that might have enough PACs tends to be very bitter, and many children will refuse to drink it. Thus, available cranberry juice mixtures tend to have a lot of sugar or sweet juices mixed in to improve the taste. Their concentration of PACs, however, is greatly diminished in the process. As a result, when parents push their kids to drink cranberry juice for a UTI, the increased fluid intake flushing out the urinary tract may be what’s making the difference more than the effect of the cranberries themselves!

One small study in 2012 tested 40 children who had had at least two UTIs in the last year. One group was given highly concentrated cranberry juice, and the other a juice without cranberries. After a year, the study found that children who drank the concentrated cranberry drink every day had a two-thirds less risk of repeat UTIs than the children who didn’t. Though this is exciting, it’s not a large enough study to make a claim. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough research done on the topic “Does Cranberry juice help uti in kids” to draw any definitive conclusions.

Bottom line, there isn’t overwhelming proof that cranberry juice will help prevent UTIs, but it won’t hurt either. If you want to try giving it to your child and they’re willing, there is little risk in doing so. 



If you’re wondering what kind of cranberry juice to get for a UTI, the answer is the higher the concentration of cranberry juice, the better. As we mentioned above, cranberry drinks you’ll most often find on your grocery store’s shelf, especially ones labeled as cranberry cocktails, usually don’t have much actual cranberry in them. Instead, they are full of sugar or other fruit juices to sweeten the fruit’s otherwise bitter taste. So, be cautious of the sugars in the drink that might not be good for your child’s health. Keep your focus on finding one that has the most concentration of cranberry juice possible — which may be something of a challenge.


Cranberry pills for UTIs are not controlled by the FDA, so it can be difficult to tell if they have enough PACs to be effective. Thus, this is a similar situation to cranberry juice — it won’t hurt to give your child cranberry pills if you want to, but there’s little evidence that they are effective at preventing UTIs.


Even if cranberry juice isn’t as effective as some might think in preventing UTIs, there are other worthwhile methods that parents can try:

  • Teach girls to wipe front to back when using the bathroom. This will keep bacteria in the rectum from getting into the urethra and becoming an infection. 
  • Encourage your child to go to the bathroom regularly. If your child is prone to holding their urine for long periods of time, this could be allowing bacteria to grow in their urinary tract, contributing to their recurrent UTIs. Try getting him or her on a schedule of using the bathroom every two hours to prevent future infections. 
  • Focus on achieving regular bowel movements. Constipation is a common cause for UTIs in children. A build-up of stool in the colon can put pressure on the bladder. This in turn makes it difficult for the bladder to empty completely. The urine left behind becomes a perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth. To prevent constipation, give your children high-fiber foods such as cereal, whole wheat bread, or Fiber One bars. You can also talk to your pediatrician about giving your child fiber supplements to help them have more regular bowel movements. 
  • Keep them hydrated. An accidental side benefit of cranberry juice could be just in flushing out your child’s system. More effective would be making sure your child drinks plenty of water to help keep their urinary system clean without the growth of bacteria. 
  • Avoid irritants. To prevent infections, it could be helpful to avoid irritants such as bubble baths, bath bombs and scented soaps. External irritation can be a confusing picture for whether or not there is a true UTI.
  • Tight-fitting clothing like swimsuits, dance leotards or tight shorts/leggings can also lead to problems. It can help to put your child in cotton underwear that allows their bottom to breathe, especially in summer months, so it doesn’t become a warm, wet area that is welcoming to bacteria. 


Does Cranberry Juice help with uti? Cranberry juice as routinely found in grocery stores is more than likely not effective at preventing UTIs in children. It doesn’t hurt, however, to try it as an adjunct as long as you’re still seeking medical attention and treating true urinary tract infections with antibiotics. There are other more effective methods for preventing your child’s recurrent UTIs, especially if they’re driven by factors in hygiene & environment that can be modified. If you have any questions or concerns, always be sure to contact your pediatrician or alternatively, reach out to one of our pediatricians at BabiesMD.
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