My 23 months old daughter used to not mind having her teeth brushed but a few weeks ago she suddenly started fighting it. She started turning her head away, wouldn’t open her mouth and started screaming as soon as she saw the tooth brush. I can kind of see where this comes form. I guess toddlers don’t really understand yet why brushing their teeth is so important and when someone then sticks an object into their mouth and moves it around that can be quite scary.
I have posted about this on my Instagram here a few weeks ago and got so many useful tips from my lovely followers that I thought it might be helpful for those parents struggling with the same problem, to pull them all together.
We have now applied a combination of some of the tips I got and since then things are going so much better! So here they are, my top 10 toddler tooth brushing tips to help make tooth brushing fun for toddlers.
- Be consistent and make it part of their evening and morning routine. They need to learn that tooth brushing is one of their responsibilities and even if they are trying to fight it, they will still have to brush their teeth. If you give in, they will stick to this tactic and make it difficult for you each time hoping that you will eventually give up. Try to explain to them why tooth brushing is so important.
- Use the right amount of tooth paste! The NHS recommends a tiny smear of toothpaste for babies and toddlers up to 3 years old and a pea-sized amount for children aged 3 to 6 years.
- Maybe your child doesn’t like the taste of the tooth paste you’re using? You could try a different flavour of tooth paste: fruity, mint or unflavored.
- Let them have a go first by themselves and then take over and given their teeth a good brush. The NHS recommends that you carry on helping your child brush their teeth until you’re sure they can do it well enough themselves. This will normally be until they’re at least 7 years old. We used this tooth brush when we first started brushing Vicky’s teeth which comes with a protector to stop them sticking the toothbrush too far into their mouth.
- If you have older children, let them all brush their teeth together. This will encourage your littlest one to copy their siblings. If you don’t have any older siblings you can try to pretend brush your child’s favourite doll’s / teddy’s teeth and praise it for doing really well before you ask your child to brush their teeth. Or brush your own teeth at the same time. You can even let them have a go at brushing your teeth and in return you then get to brush their teeth.
- Play some music or sing for them. The music will add a calming and enjoyable component to the process and can also be used as a timer, so your child knows when the music ends they can stop brushing. You could sing “This is the way we brush our teeth” for example. Not sure if your toddler is as much into “Hey Duggee” as Vicky is but a lovely follower told me that she is playing “The Hey Duggee tooth brushing song” on YouTube to her child which is about 2 minutes long and it works wonders to motivate her son to brush his teeth.
- Use a sand timer to time how long they need to brush their teeth. Your child mind find it fascinating to watch and it will give them a better understanding for how long they need to brush. These ones or these look fun.
- Get them a themed tooth brush of their favourite character (e.g. Spider Man, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig). You will be surprised how much this changes their attitude to tooth brushing!
- Lots of my followers on Instagram have suggested getting a tooth brush that lights up or vibrates or an electric toothbrush to make things more exciting for them. We have been using the Twinkle Toothbrusch by B-Brite, which twinkles for two minutes and it’s certainly helping to keep Vicky interested. The Foreo Issa mini seems to be a popular choice for a vibrating tooth brush.
- Let them choose their own tooth brush. Make a special outing of it and built up to it how that now that she is a big girl she gets to choose her very own amazing magic toothbrush! Really go overboard on making it special. It’s all about changing her mind about teeth brushing. It also helps if you don’t brush their teeth in the same place as where you had your previous battles, so you don’t have the negative associations to deal with.
And don’t forget to give them lots of praise when they are doing well!
Did your child go through a phase where they didn’t want their teeth brushed? If you have any other toddler tooth brushing tips, please share them in the comments below.