It is the first time a government has produced official advice suggesting an age and amount at which children can drink safely.
Average consumption by young people who drink has nearly doubled from 5.3 units in 1990 to 11.4 units in 2006, according to government figures.
However the number of 11-15 year-olds drinking regularly fell from more than a quarter in 2001 to a fifth in 2006, the government said.
In a separate consultation the Department of Health is proposing to limit cigarettes to packets of 20 to make them too expensive for young people to buy.
It is also proposing banning cigarette vending machines and forcing shops to sell them under the counter. For more details visit the Future of Tobacco Control web pages.