Toddlers can be tricky creatures. You know your children’s teeth need cleaning, but when your child clenches their teeth and shakes their head, what can you do to get them to brush?
You’re not alone. Parents around the world find themselves struggling to get those little mouths open so they can clean tiny teeth. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can try.
Before You Start
Before we get into the troubleshooting tips, let’s take a look at a few things you need to do to make sure your toddler’s teeth are really getting clean.
First, make sure you have toothpaste designed for toddlers. This is specially formulated to be gentler on their sensitive taste buds and is safe if they swallow it. Toddler toothpaste comes in a few different flavors, so try a few to see which one is a hit. Don’t use adult toothpaste, which can be too minty and harsh for your child’s mouth.
Second, use a child’s toothbrush. These have softer bristles and are tiny so they can fit in that little mouth without trouble. Whether electric or manual, these little brushes are meant to work for toddler teeth and usually have rubber backing on them to protect from bumps against the gums.
Finally, you should be brushing your child’s teeth two to three times a day or after each meal. That may be tough to start out doing, but you can build up to it and make it a habit. Since toddlers are creatures of habit, this can actually help! Keep in mind that you need to be the one doing the brushing at least part of the time. A toddler just isn’t coordinated enough to clean their own teeth properly, though there is nothing wrong with letting them try.
Now, let’s get to the how to get those teeth brushed.
Toddlers love to copy other people, so make sure you have them with you when you brush your teeth. Don’t make a big deal of it with them, just brush away and you’ll find that they are soon asking for a toothbrush, too.
Turn On Music
Put on a short song and ask your child to brush their teeth as long as the song is on. Pick something you like to listen to, because this is likely to become the tooth brushing song for the next year or two. Raffi has an excellent song on brushing teeth.
Read Books and Watch Videos
Children are often influenced by media, so make it work for you. Find a book or two about brushing teeth and make it a routine to read it before you go to the bathroom and scrub those teeth! Instead of being a chore, it will be a fun way to get their teeth clean.
Remember that you need to be doing some of the brushing, so try taking turns. Let your child brush their teeth for a count of three, then you brush their teeth for a count of three. If it helps, you can also let them brush your teeth. In fact, it can be a fun way to switch, if you brush each other’s teeth and you can move your mouth the way they need to move theirs.
Use an Electric Toothbrush
An electric toothbrush can be a lot of fun for kids to use and it is very efficient at cleaning teeth. Get your little one to use it at least once a day and you can rest assured that their teeth will be reasonably cleaned, even if they’re doing the brushing.
When all else fails, double up with a partner and have one person tickle your little one to make them laugh while you quickly dip in and brush those teeth! It can be done, though it may be tricky.