(AD) Brush, brush, brush your teeth…sounds simple enough right? For us adults yes, but not for our little kiddies. Nope….they make brushing teeth the biggest battle in the world. We spend a good 15 minutes chasing them into the bathroom. 5 minutes trying to get them to stand still and another 5 minutes putting toothpaste onto the toothbrush.
Then we watch them “brush their teeth” when in reality they just eat the toothpaste, inhale the water and chew away at the bristles. But that’s only half the battle: we then spend 15 minutes trying to pry the toothbrush out of their hands to try to brush their teeth ourselves. It would be all worth it if they actually ended up brushing properly but they don’t. So how can we get our toddler to brush their teeth better, I hear you ask. Read on for my fun list of teeth brushing tips and ways to get this done!
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“Do as I do, not as I say”
This has to be the best tip for getting your toddler to brush their teeth. Children are like sponges we all know that. They LOVE to copy everything they see and pick up all sorts of things. Yes, it is true that they usually pick up on all our bad habits instead of all the good lessons we try to teach them but the key is to keep trying.
Every time you take your toddler to the bathroom to brush their teeth, take your toothbrush and start brushing with them. Show them how you brush your teeth by going slow and talk them through it. Open your mouth wide and let them see the actual manoeuvre of brushing as this is where the issue usually is. My toddler seems to just want to chew on his toothbrush and suck all the water out of it instead of actually moving the brush around his mouth. It’s actually interesting that when he was younger and just started to brush his teeth he was more adamant to try to copy me but no matter what I just keep going. Never give up, they still soak in all that information even if it seems like they’re not really listening. One day it will happen.
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Brush their teeth for them
When I get my toddler into the bathroom, onto his footstool, I put the toothpaste onto the brush for him, and watch him eat it all away within a few seconds. Then he wets the toothbrush and sucks up all the water, whilst chewing away at the toothbrush for a couple of minutes and then handing it back to me signalling that he is done brushing! ummmm….nope. That cannot qualify as brushing. So it’s our job to get our toddler to brush their teeth by brushing for them.
I take his toothbrush, hold his mouth open (sometimes through tears and anguish) and I try to brush his teeth. Starting at the top moving my way around and down. I try to get as many teeth as I can in the very few minutes that I actually have but for most days I actually succeed. This is literally the only way to know that they have in fact brushed their teeth. Satisfying our worries and the worries of nearly every dentist out there.
Turn it into a fun game with a song
I find the best way to get a toddler’s attention (or even move it from one thing onto another) is to burst into song! ok well, maybe not burst but start singing a song they love. For us, it includes Baby Shark, Wheels on the Bus or even Head Shoulders Knees and Toes! Whenever I start singing my toddler starts singing with me and forgets about the thing he was so mad about in the first place.
Whenever you go to brush your toddler’s teeth and they seem very reluctant, why not start singing their favourite song – you could even swap out some of the words of the original song for “teeth” or “brush”. Why not try “brush your teeth, tu tu tu tu tu tutu, brush your teeth”! that not only will make them laugh but get them actioning along to the words.
Try a reward chart
We know that children are more likely to respond to tasks when we reward them. And what better way to reward a child then by using a reward chart. Schools have been using this type of system to reward children for good work, helping out, cleaning up etc, so there must be some science to this.
Reward charts are also used at home for things like chores, homework, potty training and more, so why not implement a reward chart for getting a toddler to brush their teeth? You can buy a simple reward chart on Amazon like this cute dinosaur one, or even a Peppa pig chart. You can even create your own with cardboard, stickers and colours. It doesn’t have to be complicated just a simple one. I’ve created a cute and simple reward chart for you. Just scroll to the bottom to download (no details necessary)!
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Routine is key
Children (even babies) thrive on routines. It helps to have a structure to their every day lives so they can expect what is happening next. We know that routine helps babies sleep better, well I think the same can be said about adding teeth brushing to their daily routine. They should know that when they wake up in the morning and before they go to sleep at night, they have to go to the bathroom and brush their teeth. This should form part of their routine. Try to do this every day at the same time that way their bodies automatically know (and sense) what is about to come next.
Routines help to keep things calm and structured at home. I know for sure that when things are chaotic, for example, my children’s routines were all over the place with lockdown, they are hyperactive, whiney and tantrums rise. So try to set a time (even if it is just for 5-10 minutes) every day, even twice a day, to take your little one to the bathroom to brush their teeth.
Choose a “special” toothpaste
This particular tip may seem like a silly way to get your toddler to brush their teeth but hey it works. Children love colour, patterns, pictures and characters. So naturally any product with a bright, colourful, fun and attractive label/ packaging will catch their attention! I, therefore, tend to buy toothpaste with either his favourite characters on or ones that I know will taste good or even that look bright and are eye-catching.
Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection Kids toothpaste is definitely a winner when it comes to choosing a toothpaste for my toddler. It’s vegan friendly and even has a sugar-acid neutraliser which is great for brushing teeth after any sugary foods/ sweets/ drinks. My toddler loves this toothpaste especially the mild mint flavour as he enjoys the minty feeling as he eats away at it. I, of course, use a very small amount on his toothbrush for him but along with the tips above, it gets the job done. Teeth brushed = mum happy!
Disclaimer: This product was gifted to me by Colgate, but all the views are my own!
What’s your best tip to encourage your child to brush their teeth?
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Til next time
XoXo Monica XoXo