Parents will be given free cups or beakers in exchange for their children’s bottles, as part of the ongoing battle to improve children’s teeth.
Lots has been done to improve youngsters’ oral hygiene in recent years, including introducing special milk containing fluoride at Blackpool schools, and figures earlier this year showed 75.1 per cent of five-year-olds are free of dental decay – significantly higher than the 57.5 per cent recorded three years ago.
And this latest move, a ‘bottle swap’, will be held at all children’s centres in the resort, various early years facilities, dental practices, and Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The aim is to get children off bottles at six months old to reduce the risk of bottle caries, a form of tooth decay.
Teats and spouts on bottles encourage tots to suck for long periods of time, which experts say means drinks that cause tooth decay stay in contact with teeth for too long.
A new north west campaign, Kind to Teeth, is being backed by local health bosses, and will promote healthier drinks – essentially milk or water only – for under-fives. That follows research that showed babies as young as one were consuming high levels of sugar, and the council’s Gulp campaign, which encouraged students in Blackpool to give up fizzy drinks.
Coun Amy Cross, the council’s cabinet member for health, said: “We found there was a greater understanding of the health risk and a drop in the number of people who had previously stated they ‘often’ bought drinks with a high sugar content.
“We want to repeat that success with our youngest children and, through the campaign, support parents and carers to have a better understanding of the potential risks to oral health if their child consumes sugary drinks.”
Beth Bradshaw, a nutritionist from Food Active, added: “We know many children across the north west are experiencing issues of dental decay and unhealthy weight by the time they start school, and excessive consumption of sugar, particularly through sugar-sweetened beverages, is a big part of the problem.
“Blackpool is no exception, so we are delighted to support the council’s public health team in the delivery of the Kind to Teeth campaign in the area.
“The early years present a fantastic window of opportunity to influence long-term healthy food and drink patterns, so let’s be kind to our future generation’s teeth - only milk and water, please!”