What age is appropriate for a child to have gum?

How old should a child be before they try gum? Should they even have it at all? 1,427 parents told us what they think about kids having chewing gum, plus: we asked a child nutritionist for her thoughts...

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In a nutshell: Most people said ‘Never’ when asked what age they’d let their child have gum (we polled 1,427 parents).

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It’s sticky, slightly gross stuff but for decades, kids have loved it. We’re talking gum: chewing gum, bubble gum – whichever way it comes.

A couple of mums on the MFM team agreed that from as young as 4 or 5, their kids begged them to let them try gum (to a resounding NO).

And when we surveyed 1,400 mums were surveyed on the topic, lots were equally resolute that they were keen to keep their children as far away from gum for as long as possible 😂

The most popular answers when we asked our mums what age they’d let their child have gum were ‘Never’ (19%), followed by age 10 (16%) followed by ‘not sure’ (15%).

Though a few said they’d let their kids have it earlier – some at 8 (12%) and even a few as young as 5 (2%).

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A mum of a 12-year-old boy said she let him try it eventually “because he was pestering me and all his friends were allowed it”.

And a mum with a much younger child, told us: “I let my 6 year old have chewing gum a few weeks ago on a car journey.”

Though she added that: “I’ve had to throw the shorts away that she was wearing!” presumably because they got into a rather sticky mess 😑

What age can a child chew gum? What the expert says

We spoke to child nutritionist Sarah Almond Bushell, who told us it’s not actually all bad when it comes to chewing gum – the good news about it is it increases saliva production which can help prevent dental cavities.

But, to be on the safe side, children need to be at least 4 years of age before you given them it because they can’t grasp the concept of chewing without swallowing before then.

“Chewing and not swallowing goes against everything they’ve learned about eating during weaning and toddlerhood and they need to be able to process the logic behind what your saying with regards to chewing only,” says Sarah.

“It can also be a choking hazard. Gum needs to be sugar-free, so avoid bubble gums which can be very damaging as the sugar is forcibly pressed against the teeth.

“The other issue I have with gum is how children play with it, pull it in and out of their mouths and get it stuck to their hair, furniture, clothes etc, adds Sarah. “But I guess this is personal preference.”

This tag cloud shows some of the key words that came up from comments on this topic…

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What do you think?

At what age (if any) would you let your child have gum?  Tell us in the comments below, on Instagram or over on Facebook

Images: Getty Images

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