Toddlers can be a stubborn bunch. Getting them to eat veggies or accept when it’s their bedtime can be like… well, pulling teeth. The new found independence when they discover they can say “NO” is both why we love them, but also why we sometimes think about putting them up for adoption… Just kidding.
Letting them stay up past their bed-time or skipping the Brussels sprouts probably won’t hurt in the short term. However, habits form early. This is especially true for brushing your teeth. It is critical to get kids familiar with brushing, as it is something they will do for the rest of their lives. Sure, their baby teeth won’t last, but the discipline and good habit of brushing daily is something that will last.
Below are 5 tips to get your toddlers brushing:
Everyone needs to brush their teeth (Even Barbie and Action Man)
When it’s bath time, have your child watch you brush your teeth, then have them brush the teeth of their dolls, or bath toys. When they’ve finished, they will be much more likely to let you brush their teeth, or even brush their own teeth.
Have them brush your teeth
Give your toddler the toothbrush and have them brush your teeth. Giving them a sense of control and reciprocity will make it far easier when it comes time for them brush their teeth.
Start by turning tooth brushing into a playful activity. Hand your toddler the toothbrush and encourage them to take charge by brushing your teeth. This not only gives them a sense of control but also establishes a reciprocal dynamic, making them more willing to participate when it’s their turn.
As your toddler wields the toothbrush, you can playfully exaggerate reactions to make the experience entertaining. For example, you can pretend that the toothbrush is a magic wand or a superhero tool, and their brushing is casting a spell to make your teeth sparkle.
While they’re brushing, engage in light conversation or storytelling. This not only distracts them from any initial apprehension but also makes the activity more enjoyable. You can tell a short, silly story or ask them about their day to create a positive and relaxed atmosphere.
To make the process even more interactive, let your toddler choose the toothpaste flavor or the color of their toothbrush. By giving them these small choices, you’re fostering a sense of independence and making the routine more personalized to their preferences.
Consider incorporating a timer or a song to establish a routine for brushing duration. Singing a short song or playing their favorite tune while they brush can add an element of fun and serve as a timer for the recommended two-minute brushing time.
After the brushing session, celebrate their efforts. Offer words of encouragement, applause, or a high-five. Positive reinforcement reinforces the idea that tooth brushing is a positive and rewarding activity.
By involving your toddler in the tooth brushing process in a playful and engaging way, you’re not only fostering good oral hygiene habits but also creating a positive association with dental care that will benefit them in the long run.
Sing a song or use a musical toothbrush
Not only will it make it a bit more fun, but it also will get them to brush their teeth for a consistent amount of time (until the song is over).
Choose a short and lively song that your child likes, and make it the official “tooth brushing song.” Sing the song together while they brush, turning it into a cheerful and engaging activity. You can even create a little dance to go along with the brushing rhythm.
Alternatively, consider using a musical toothbrush. These toothbrushes are designed with built-in tunes that play for about two minutes, ensuring your child brushes for the recommended time. The musical element adds an entertaining aspect to the routine, making it more likely that your child will stick to the brushing routine until the song is over.
Making tooth brushing a musical experience not only makes it more enjoyable for your child but also establishes a consistent and effective routine. This way, you can turn a necessary task into a fun and interactive moment that contributes to their overall oral health.
Consider different toothpaste
Or skipping it all together. Some dentists say it’s okay to skip toothpaste for now, while others suggest trying different brands that kids might like more.
When it comes to your child’s toothpaste, it’s okay to consider different options or even skip it for now. Many dentists agree that it’s fine at this age, especially since most kids aren’t fond of toothpaste. You can either choose to skip it altogether or experiment with various brands of kids’ toothpaste to find the one that works best for your child. Introduce flossing gently once they’re comfortable with brushing.
By putting the focus on both fun and good habits, you can turn tooth brushing into a positive experience
Make it a competition
If they are old enough, it can be a good idea to set up a calendar with stickers. This way, when your tot brushes that get a gold star, and if they don’t then they don’t get a gold star.