Practically everyone who’s ever worked with toddlers knows how difficult it can be to brush their teeth! They are happy as can be to ‘brush’ by themselves (too bad the dentist doesn’t find that sufficient), but when it comes to letting you shine those little incisors, their miniature mouths seal shut tighter than the lid on a pickle jar. So what can a parent do?
Thankfully, after decades of working with little people, I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be that hard.The trick is to get them to want to cooperate. Here’s a few of my favorite tips to accomplish that!
Find a Fun Brush (characters are great)- tell them “Lightning McQueen (the toothbrush) wants to race over all your teeth and see how fast he can go. Are you ready?”
Toothpaste Matters! – Get a toothpaste that tastes good of course. Flouride or no flouride…that’s a whole new post! But my two hygienist mommy friends who also love natural health still vote yes to flouride. This one has flouride but none of the yucky sugars and dyes: http://bit.ly/totpaste
Sing a song! – You can YouTube toothbrushing songs or just change the lyrics to one of your kids’ favorite tunes to words about teeth! They won’t judge your lame rhymes but they’ll have more fun (i.e. “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is now “This is How We Brush Our Teeth”)
Look in the Mirror – Toddlers love to look at themselves! If you’re able to plop them down right on the sink so they can get nice and close to their reflection, you can usually buy a few moments to brush
Take Turns– “Mommy’s turn, then your turn”. Your toddler might be more compliant if she knows her turn is coming soon!
Distraction If your toddler is too young to spit yet, you can lay them on the floor and, while you’re brushing, give them a small book to look at or an interesting toy that won’t easily drop or roll. They will be so distracted they won’t mind that you are brushing
Play a Toothbrushing Game– You might be tired at the end of a long day, but muster up some energy to get silly! Playing games is by far the MOST helpful toothbrushing trick! And here are our favorites (Bear with me on these …they are ridiculous! But ridiculous is… well, just what the dentist ordered)
Germ Blasters -Your kids’ toothbrush transforms into a magical ‘Germ Hunter,’
out seeking germs to blast away. As you brush all over be sure to occasionally
shout “I found one” and blast (pretend to throw) it to the moon *sound effects
Animal Hunt -Your toothbrush is an Animal Hunter, seeking out a fox, a mouse,
a skunk (etc) that has crawled into your child’s mouth. Whisper “Oh, boy, is it
there? Little Mousey, is that you?” as you brush around. Make it squeak when
you ‘find’ it and when you’re all done brushing scare it away with a loud “Roar”
Racing-(as mentioned above) your toothbrush is car racing all over teeth (lots
of vrooming is effective)
Toothbrush Train– Your toothbrush is a train, chugging over the ‘teeth tracks’ as
you brush. Lots of chugging sounds and choo-chooing are great
Shiny Teeth- tell your tot you want to make their teeth soooo shiny. After you
brush, pretend to be blinded by their teeth (fall over, be dramatic)
- Get an Electric Toothbrush -And lastly, despite all the tricks, your time in their mouths is still going to be shorter than you’d like. Make it count! Electric toothbrushes do a far better job at cleaning! But they do take a little getting used to (We use one like this that has replaceable heads http://bit.ly/totbrush and LOVE it)
And that’s it…you don’t have to be afraid anymore! Now go and tackle those toddler teeth!
I'd love to hear from you! What tips and tricks do you use for brushing your toddler's teeth?