Now that our toddler finally has some teeth, we are trying to be more on the ball about toothbrushing each morning and evening. While toothbrushing can feel like a tedious task for parents and kids alike, it doesn’t have to be. Brushing your child’s teeth can actually be fun for all involved!
As parents, I’ll be the first to admit, we don’t have it all figured out when it comes to the fine art of toothbrushing with our little one. But we are working toward ensuring it becomes a solid and enjoyable routine for him each day. Brushing our teeth is something all of us have to do for the rest of our lives. Thus, whenever possible, I think it is important to start off the process on a positive note.
The following are a few things we have implemented in our home to establish a toothbrushing routine, and seek to have fun with it along the way:
We brush each morning and night.
The best way to build a toddler’s comfort level with something new as well as establish a routine is to do it time-and-again. Decide upon designated times to brush your little one’s teeth and stick with it. For us, it works best to brush Asher’s teeth right after putting his clothes on in the morning. Then, we do it again at night as our first step in our bedtime routine. Whatever works for you is fine. Just be consistent.
We model toothbrushing.
Asher loves to watch mommy and daddy brush their teeth. Often in the morning, one of us will brush our teeth while the other one helps him, so that we can do it together. Its a great way for him to see it is something that we all do. Not to mention it gives him a chance to observe our teeth, how we move our brush, etc.
We let our toddler try it.
While this often consists of him just inhaling the toothpaste, Asher is able to move his brush back and forth a bit on his own now. And he loves to hold the brush under the running water afterwards and help to put it away. Slowly but surely in practicing these seemingly little things, it is helping him to build independence. Not only that, but he feels like such a “big boy” in doing so.
Have a toddler that’s not into trying it out in their own mouth? Have them practice brushing your teeth! Its fun, silly and still enables them to practice these skills!
We give choices.
At his currently age, this looks as simple as “Do you want mommy or daddy to brush your teeth?”. But as he gets older, giving him more choice, and in turn, a bit more control, can make the process seem less mundane. Giving toddlers choice in things like what toothbrush or toothpaste they use can make a huge difference. Or even giving up a bit of control and allowing them to brush their teeth in the hallway, for instance, versus the bathroom, can sometimes make a world of difference in the success department. (Just remind them to still spit in the sink.)
We read stories about it.
I’m all about using books to reinforce concepts whenever possible. When we first introduced toothbrushing, we read Asher the one pictured below (it comes in English as well and is called “Brush!, Brush!, Brush!). We continue to read it here and there at night to point out all the important steps in the process. For some other book ideas on toothbrushing, check out this post.
We do Toothbrushing related activities.
Do you have a child who loves to get messy? Grab an old toothbrush and a few drops of paint and let them go to town creating art with their brush. What about a little one who loves snacks? Try out these adorable “silly apple bites” with sunflower seed teeth and strawberry tongues. (Swap the seeds for something softer as needed for your child.) Or finally, one of my personal favorites – play a simple game of “brush off the plaque” with a quick tooth print out and Expo marker.
Morale of the story, building a positive relationship with toothbrushing can go beyond the act of merely doing it. In fact, for kids that are highly resistant, this may be a great way to ease them into the process.
We sing about it.
When we first started setting up our toothbrushing routine, I knew I wanted a song that we could sing each time Asher brushed to engage him. I wanted one that was easy to remember and that would help remind him of the basic steps.What’s more, I wanted a song that could be sung in English or Spanish. All of those prereqs were hard to come by, so in all honesty, I gave up the hunt after a few days and just created my own on the fly – and it stuck.
Here’s a video of us singing it as we brush our teeth.
I typed up the lyrics in both English and Spanish as well here, if anyone wants to use it. And yes, if you do, you are obligated to send me your sing along debut as well ;).
All in all, whether you use all of these tips, just a few, or none at all, remember, it is possible to build a fun toothbrushing routine for your toddler. You know them best. So take their unique needs, temperament and interests into account when creating a routine. And with that, happy brushing!
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