The British Dental Association recently called for action on the amount of sugar in baby foods. This is a vital step to protect the oral health of young children and prevent dental health issues as they grow up.
In today’s busy society, parents often find themselves reaching for the convenient option of prepared baby food pouches and jars. These popular items are easy to serve both at home and on the go and claim to give young children the nutrients they need. What has come to light, however, through recent research, is that many of these products contain very high levels of sugar and because some of these items are intended to be consumed straight from the pouch, they stay in the mouth longer, putting the teeth at prolonged risk of attack.
Some of the shocking stats that came out of this research include:
- Some fruit based pouches aimed at children from 4 months old contain up to 150% of the sugar levels of fizzy pop.
- Some products aimed at children over 4 months contained up to two-thirds the recommended daily sugar allowance for adults.
- Many products had more than the 5g of sugar per 100ml threshold set for the sugar levy applied to drinks.
These stats are particularly worrying when you consider that consuming a lot of sugar at a young age can lead to a lifetime preference for overly sweet foods.
Oral health tips for babies and young children
Whilst waiting to see if the government will take action and put legislation in place to control the amount of sugar manufacturers put in foods aimed at babies and young children, here are some tips on how you can prevent your baby from becoming a sugar addict.
- Where possible prepare your own vegetable purees as these contain less naturally found sugars than the apples used as the basis for many store bought products. Stewed and mashed root vegetables such as carrots or sweet potatoes are sweet in taste but are quick to prepare, cost effective and healthier than many fruit alternatives.
- Avoid giving sugar sweetened drinks to children under 1. The best drinks for young children are milk and water.
- Don’t use a bottle to give children fruit juice drinks as the teat stays in the mouth for longer and exposes the teeth to more acid, which can lead to tooth decay. A handy tip is to dilute fruit juices with 10 parts water to minimise sugar intake and only give these drinks at meal times.
- Check the labels of pre-prepared baby foods and snacks to see how much sugar they contain. Even seemingly healthy fruit snacks can contain huge amounts of sugar.
- Using a suitable toothbrush and a tiny smear of toothpaste, clean your child’s teeth twice daily, brushing in small circles to reach all the surfaces. If your child doesn’t particularly like having their teeth cleaned, see if you can turn it into a game, using music, or get the whole family involved.
Visit a children’s dentist
Perhaps the most important oral health care tip we can give you for babies and young children is to get them used to visiting the dentist as soon as you can. They can accompany you to your appointment to get familiar with the sights and smells of our practice, or you can book them in for their own appointment as soon as their first teeth start coming through. By visiting a practice that specialises in children’s dentistry, you can rest assured that their best interests are at heart and we’ll do all we can to make children feel relaxed and comfortable for the duration of their visit.
Call Riverside Dental Spa on 020 7091 0677 or click here to book an appointment for your child.