Preventative Dental Care for Under 5's
Under 5's need a varied diet to ensure they get all the nutrients they require for growth and development.
Nursery aged children often have small appetites and need regular meals with small snacks in-between which should be as nutritious as possible and sugar free to prevent tooth decay.
Chocolate bars, sweets, cereal bars and sweet biscuits should be saved for mealtimes and as treats rather than taken between meals.
- Fruit - mouth size chunks, cubes or slices of apple, pear, satsuma, orange, banana, kiwi, melon, strawberries and grapes.
- Raw vegetables - carrot, pepper, celery, cucumber, cherry tomato, red cabbage, turnip, radish and courgette.
- Toast, bread rolls, baps, French bread with a small amount of polyunsaturated spread.
- Small sandwiches with marmite, cheese, tuna, thin slices of meat.
- Pitta bread pockets - on their own or with a filling.
- Bread sticks - on their own or with a dip or soft cheese e.g. Dairylea, Philadelphia or cottage cheese.
- Oatcakes, rice cakes, crackers and crispbreads.
- Natural yoghurt with fruit or fromage frais.
- Muffins, plain, potato or cheese scones, crumpets, pancake, plain buns.
- Home-made pizza triangles.
- Plain microwave popcorn.
- Crisps or corn snacks e.g. Quavers, Golden Lights, Wheat Crunchies, Tortilla chips or Twiglets - keep these to a minimum e.g. no more than once per day, because these are high in salt and fat.
It is very important for infants and young children to have plenty of fluids to drink, as it helps their body to function properly and helps prevent constipation.
- Milk and water are the only safe drinks for teeth so can be recommended between meals.
- Drinking water should be encouraged at all times.
- From the age of 2 years children can be given semi-skimmed milk at home providing they have a wide and varied diet, but children eating only a limited range of foods should continue to have full fat milk until the age of 5.
- Skimmed milk is not recommended for any child under the age of 5.
- Remember that cow's milk is unsuitable as the main milk for children under one year.
- Fresh fruit juice is a good source of Vitamin C but is best given with breakfast or a main meal to help with the absorption of iron.
- Fresh fruit juices are quite acidic so can be harmful to teeth and so should be diluted with water (1 part juice to at least 2 parts water).
- Squashes are best avoided, especially between meals. If offering squash with a meal then offer "no added sugar" varieties and dilute well (1 part squash to at least 8 parts water).
- Squash should always be served in a feeding cup, not a bottle, to minimise risk of tooth decay.
- Fizzy drinks (either diet or sugar containing) should be kept for special occasions and, if given, preferably offered with food.
- At around 6 months of age it is a good time to encourage the use of a drinking cup instead of a bottle for water, diluted juices and even for formula milk or expressed breast milk.
- Tea and coffee are not recommended for children under 5 as the tannin present can hinder the absorption of iron. However, if tea is given to encourage a child to drink milk, make the tea as milky as possible and don't add sugar.