Oral hygiene is an important part of life and teaching it to your child when they’re still a toddler will save you and them a world of trouble later in life. However, as every parent who’s ever bathed a grumpy toddler knows, they don’t always want to along with your toothbrushing efforts. Somewhere in between giving up and saving for massive dental bills, and prying open your toddler’s jaw, the middle ground lies in distraction and teaching, so here are some helpful tips.
Repeat after me
Toddlers love imitating their parents, so they will happily play along if they see you also brushing your teeth. A big plus is if you can turn brushing teeth into a game. As adults with deadlines, chores and responsibilities we too often forget that toddlers do not abide by our schedules and quite frankly, shouldn’t have to – there will be plenty of scheduling for them to adhere to as they grow up. So instead of trying to convince them, take your time playing a made-up toothbrush game.
Toddlers love music, so using a song they like when it’s time to brush is sure to lighten the mood and convince them to show their soon-to-be pearly whites. They also cling to routine, so if you can find a song that they start to associate with brushing teeth and enjoying it, you have already won half the battle. Bonus points if it’s a song you can both have a laugh at.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Find a toothpaste and toothbrush that your toddler likes. Experiment with different flavours of toothpastes until you find one your little one enjoys. When it comes to choosing the toothbrush bear in mind that the toothbrush they were perfectly happy with last week, before any teeth started cutting, might not be very popular today while their gums are tender and sore. So, keep at least two – one with bristles and one soft – handy so that you have the option of switching between them for sore gums.
Who’s that in the mirror?
Looking at themselves in the mirror is an endlessly enjoyable pastime for toddlers. So, if you are struggling with brush time, introducing a mirror might smooth things over. Your toddler might be much more amenable to the toothbrush if she can look at herself while brushing.
You go, I go!
The same way your toddler will often try and give you a spoonful of their dinner in between their own bites, they often enjoy a chance to quickly brush your teeth before brushing their own. This is fertile ground for fun games where you get to take turns with the brush.
The more fun your toddler has with activities like brushing teeth, the more likely they are to go along with your efforts to brush their teeth. Also remember, if they miss a day here and there because they are just not feeling up to it, that’s also not the end of the world!