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Boots serves up flavoured water for newborns

29th January 2004

The World Health Organization recommends that babies should drink breastmilk exclusively for the first six months of life, a principle adopted by the UK's Department of Health.

Breastfeeding is protective against a host of ailments and diseases, ranging from allergies and digestive disorders to diabetes and heart disease.

Dietitians generally stick to the 'six months breastfeeding' advice, with some saying that water can be introduced into the baby's diet at around four months, especially in hot weather. But for younger and newborn infants, nutritious breastmilk should be their sole source of fluid.

However, contrary to such sound advice, the pharmaceutical retailer Boots has launched a new product range of flavoured water designed for babies 'from four weeks'. The ingredients are water, flavouring and citric acid.

Not only is this a very expensive way of buying water (over 5 per litre); but do babies really need their first contact with water to be adulterated with peach, blackcurrant, strawberry or apple flavourings?

boots baby waterBoots have ignored the advice of both the World Health Organization and the Department of Health to target this extremely expensive baby water at new mums

More bad advice

Boots is not the only company giving product advice that is unlikely to match up with guidance from dietitians.

Meridian Apple Juice Concentrate (left) is described as a 'baby juice'. The company does give advice on diluting the highly concentrated product, but says that up to five drinks a day would be suitable for a four-month-old baby.

No advice is given on the bottle relating to dental health care despite the fact that even after dilution this is a very sugary drink. Five times a day is a high level of exposure to sugar for newly developing teeth, especially if the baby is also consuming sugars in other foods.

baby juiceMeridian say this very sugary 'baby juice' can be drunk five times a day, which is a high level of exposure for newly developing teeth

Toddler top puts teeth at risk

How can one tiny piece of plastic pose a serious threat to toddlers' teeth?

This new screw-on top, available in Tesco and sent to us by a concerned dental specialist, is called an Anywayup Toddler Top and fits onto plastic bottles. The design of the screw-on top means that whichever way up the bottle is held, fluid cannot leak out. This might seem handy for mums, but it is not so handy for teeth.

We have found that the Anywayup Toddler Top is a perfect fit for sugary soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, 7-Up, Irn Bru and Panda Pops. It also fits onto several popular varieties of sweetened squashes and flavoured fruit drinks, but not onto milk bottles.

One of the main threats to newly formed toddler teeth is frequent exposure to sugary foods and drinks. Yet this is just the sort of exposure encouraged by a top that allows sugary drinks to be sipped frequently throughout the day. This drip-feeds sugar into a toddler's mouth, creating a perfect environment for tooth-rotting bacteria to thrive.

toddler capThe Anyway Toddler Top is perfectly designed to drip-feed sugary drinks into a toddler's mouth, creating a perfect environment for tooth-rotting bacteria to thrive.

The British Dental Association says that around a third of children will have one or more of their teeth extracted before the age of five. The majority of these extractions could be prevented by better dental care and healthier eating and drinking habits.

We have raised our concerns about the Anywayup Toddler Top with the company that produces them, and with Tesco, the Food Standards Agency and the local trading standards officer responsible for Anywayup products. On grounds of safety and health, we think this top should be withdrawn from sale.