EARLY YEARS – Kind to Teeth

Food Active’s GULP Early Years Campaign: ‘Kind to Teeth’ aims to improve knowledge and raise awareness of the health risks associated with consumption of sugary drinks in under-fives. The campaign has been developed by registered nutritionists, dental health and early years specialists and forms part of the well-known Give Up Loving Pop campaign.

We have developed a suite of resources to support the campaign, the range and associated costs of which can be found in the GULP Kind to Teeth Brochure

Access to these resources come at a cost, but we would be happy to discuss how this could suit your budget. We can also develop resources to meet your requirements, please get in touch for more information by emailing info@foodactive.org.uk

Sugar in Early Years

We are all consuming too much sugar and it is bad for our health. In particular, it can have a detrimental effect on the health of young children. The period from birth to five years of age is a key stage in a child’s development. Eating habits and patterns are established relatively young, this provides a window of opportunity to encourage healthy food and drink choices.

However, national data shows that sugar intake across all population groups is above the national recommendations (1). Babies as young as one-year-old are consuming high levels of sugar in their diet, and sugary drinks are part of the problem. This is in spite of public health guidance that recommends reducing free sugar consumption, instead promoting milk and water as the most suitable drinks, particularly before the age of two years (2).

Why are sugary drinks a concern for babies and young children?

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is significantly linked to dental caries, which is already apparent in many children as young as three. Research by Public Health England found that 12% of three-year-olds have evidence of tooth decay having on average three decayed, missing or filled teeth.

In another piece of research, the Child Dental Health Survey demonstrated that, by the age of five, nearly a third (31%) of children had obvious decay in their milk teeth. Researchers also found that some children had a particular type of decay known as early childhood caries, which affects the upper front teeth and spreads quickly to other teeth. It is linked to the consumption of sugary drinks in baby bottles or sipping cups (3).

Other major health consequences related to high consumption of sugar sweetened beverages include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and links to higher body weight in children (2). High sugar intake may also accustom infants and young children to very sweet tastes which is another factor contributing to weight gain in later years (4). According to the National Child Measurement Programme for England, over a fifth of children (22.6%) aged 4–5 years were overweight or obese on school entry, this figure has increased since previous years (5).

What are suitable drinks for children aged 0-4?

It is recommended that all babies are exclusively breast fed for the first six months of life and then for as long as the mother wishes to do so (6).

Non-breast fed babies should have infant formula (often called first milk) until 1 year of age. Before six months, babies receive all the liquids (and nutrients) they require from breast milk or infant formula. There is no need to give infants additional drinks, however formula-fed babies may need some extra (cooled boiled) water in hot weather (7, 8, 9).

From six months to 1-year breast milk, an appropriate first infant formula, and water can be given.

At 1-year (whole) animal based milk (e.g. cow’s milk) can be introduced as a drink (10).  The Department of Health in UK recommends that, from the age of 2 years, children who are growing normally and eating a healthy balanced diet can move on to semi-skimmed milk. 1% fat or skimmed milk should not be given under the age of five (11).

Public Health England recommends plain milk and water as the best drinks to keep children well hydrated. No drinks other than water or milk should be given to children before the age of two (2, 12).

National guidelines state if parents or carers choose to give fruit juices and smoothies, these should be diluted with one part juice to 10 parts water and limited to mealtimes only (13, 14, 15). Children are also discouraged from having fizzy drinks and squashes – including fruit squashes, fruit juice drinks, and diet, non-diet, no-added-sugar and low-sugar varieties. These drinks may provide excess calories, can lead to dental health problems and develop a strong preference for sweetened drinks. For more information on how to identify the sugar content of drinks, follow this link.

Providing your baby with the right drinks is a really important step in keeping your baby healthy and happy. Our new ‘Kind to Teeth’ campaign aims to promote healthy hydration in the early years and to provide mothers with the right information on the most suitable drinks for their baby or young

The Kind to Teeth campaign has been launched to coincide with National Smile Month, which will take place between 14th May until 14th June. National Smile Month encourages all dental and health professionals, schools, pharmacies, community groups, colleges and workplaces – in fact anyone with an interest in good oral health healthcare, to join in and help to educate, motivate and communicate positive oral help messages, such as the Kind to Teeth campaign, and improves the quality of smiles all around the UK. You can show your support by tweeting about the campaign and using the hashtags #GiveUpLovingPop & #KindToTeeth.


Below is a selection of the ‘Kind to Teeth’ poster designs (including BAME specific imagery), social media resources, videos, briefing papers, FAQ’s and a range of materials including concertina leaflets, A4 fold outs and pop up banners to support a campaign in your local area.

The cost for accessing these resources can be found in the Kind to Teeth brochure below:

GULP Kind to Teeth Brochure

If you are interested in placing an order of any of these resources and would like to speak to one of the team, please email info@foodactive.org.uk


  1. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2015) Carbohydrates and Health Report. Public Health England.
  1. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2017) Scientific summary to support policy around feeding infants in the first year in the UK. Public Health England.
  1. Public Health England Guidance (2017). Child oral health: applying All Our Health. Guidance [Accessed online 26/09/2017].


  1. First Steps Nutrition Trust (2017) Baby foods in the UK. A review of commercially produced jars and pouches of baby foods marketed in the UK.
  1. National Statistics (2016) National Child Measurement Programme – England, 2016-17. Public Health England.
  1. WHO breastfeeding Guidance and “Optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding (Review)”, Kramer MS, Kakuma R. The Cochrane Library, 2009, Issue 4).
  1. British Dietetic Association (2016) Food Fact Sheet. Complementary feeding (weaning) [Accessed online 28/03/2018]. https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/WeaningYourChild.pdf
  1. Shaw V. Hydration in infants and children. Presentation published by British Nutrition Foundation [Accessed online 28/03/2018] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/442_Shaw.pdf
  1. NHS choices (2015) Drinks and cups for babies and toddlers. [Accessed online 28/03/2018] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/drinks-and-cups-children/
  1. NHS Choices (2016) What to feed young children. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-andbaby/pages/understanding-food-groups.aspx#fat [Accessed online 28/03/2018]
  1. First Steps Nutrition Trust (2017) Infant milk: A simple guide to infant formula, follow-on formula and other infant milks.
  1. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2017) Scientific summary to support policy around feeding infants in the first year in the UK. Public Health England.
  1. Caroline Walker Trust (2011) Eating well: first year of life. Practical Guide [Accessed online 26/09/2017] http://www.cwt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Eating-Well-First-Year-of-Life-Web.pdf
  1. Caroline Walker Trust (2014) Eating Well for 1-4 Year Olds: Practical Guide [Accessed online 26/09/2017] http://www.cwt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/CHEW-1-4YearsPracticalGuide3rd-Edition.pdf
  1. British Nutrition Foundation (2014) 5532 a-day. Perfect portions for toddler tums. [Accessed online 28/03/2018] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/734/BNF%20Toddler%20Eatwell%20Leaflet_OL.pdf