Protecting Toddlers from Tooth Decay

  1. Limit any sweet food to mealtimes and no more than one sweet snack per day. The other snacks should be savoury.
  2. Do not give toddlers sweet drinks, including fruit juice and smoothies, as both the acid and sugar in these can damage the teeth. If fruit juice is given, parents should be advised to dilute the juice in quantities of one part juice to 10 parts water.
  3. Serve all drinks in a cup, not a bottle. Sweet drinks in a bottle are particularly harmful for teeth because sucking slowly on sweet drinks increases the risk of tooth decay.
  4. Leaving a bottle of milk or a sweet drink with a toddler when you settle them down  is the most harmful for teeth. Toddlers should only be given water at night and nap times.
  5. If a child uses a pacifier, soother or dummy, make sure it is an orthodontic dummy and never dip it in anything sweet.
  6. Start offering a cup or free-flow beaker for drinks from about six months or so. Stop using bottles around 12 months. Water or milk are safe drinks between meals and snacks.
  7. Dried fruit bars and cereals are sweet snacks and should be avoided. Dentists recommend only giving dried fruit with meals and not as a snack.
  8. Do not allow grazing on food and drinks during the day. Only offer a toddler food as three meals and 2 to 3 snacks each day.

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