• 5 Ways to Get Your Toddler to Brush Her Teeth On Her Own

    Little one won't go near a toothbrush? These tips will change her mind.
    by SmartParenting Staff .
5 Ways to Get Your Toddler to Brush Her Teeth On Her Own
PHOTO BY @maroke/iStock
  • One of the most anticipated milestones in a child's early life is the eruption of his first tooth. It can happen anytime between 3 and 7 months — and for some babies, not until their first birthday. It's a stage often believed to be accompanied by discomfort, fever, diarrhea, and irritability, although these usually only last until the tooth erupts.

    Now the question most new parents ask is how do you care for baby's teeth? And when do you begin?

    According to Dr. Nina Tayag-Atotubo of the Philippine Pediatric Dental Society Inc., and consultant at the Pediatric Dentistry Center Philippines in an article on SmartParenting.com.ph, parents should bring their children to the dental clinic for their first visit “no later than age 1, or as early as when the first tooth erupts.”

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    Needless to say, once your kids grow their milk teeth, brushing is the most reliable way to keep them clean. However, getting rambunctious children to stop long enough to brush their teeth seems like an impossible task.

    TV host and new dad of two Drew Arellano could probably relate. On Instagram, he posted a photo of his adorable 1-year-old son Primo holding a toothbrush to his mouth, and captioned it, "Anak, how come when there's a camera you brush your teeth, if there's none we need to move heaven and earth just to get near you with a toothbrush?🙈" 

    Indeed, how does a parent get it done? Below are five creative ways moms are able to to get their kids to brush their teeth — might work for your child, too.

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    1. Get your game on

    At 16 months old, Rowie’s son Rafael hasn’t yet developed the coordination needed to brush his own teeth, so Rowie has to do it for him — and be creative while at it.  One way Rowie gets Rafael to open wide is to turn toothbrushing into a game. 

    “I put my toothbrush in my mouth at the same time so that he copies me,” says Rowie, “When I go ‘eeeee’ he copies me and goes ‘eeeee’ as well, and that gives me the opportunity to brush his front teeth. Then I say ‘ahhhh’ and have him copy my mouth again while I brush the back of his teeth.”

    If Rafael insists on grabbing the toothbrush, as many kids no doubt will, Rowie guides his hand by putting her hand over the toothbrush as well.

    2. Let your kid do something for you

    It’s easy to forget that children would love you to depend on them. They so rarely get the chance to be responsible so that anything you request helps them build their own confidence. For mommy Veronica, brushing time becomes a bit easier by giving her 3-year old daughter, Maeven, the “privilege” of brushing her mommy’s teeth. Veronica says that it usually distracts Maeven long enough, so she can brush her daughter’s teeth thoroughly. Veronica also adds in a bit of fun afterwards by pretending to kiss Maeven with her foamy mouth. Sounds like a recipe for good times, huh?

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    3. Make it fun

    With three children, mommy KC has her hands full. But instead of struggling with her 5 year-old and 3 ½ year-old (not to mention another infant), she bought battery-operated toothbrushes with handles designed in her children’s favorite characters. Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants, anyone?

    “They had a good time seeing their toothbrush move by itself, so they perceived their toothbrushes not as a necessity but more like a toy,” says KC. After the batteries ran out, KC switched back to regular toothbrushes without any problem at all.

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    4. Add flavor

    While you might love your minty fresh toothpaste, your taste isn’t necessarily like your children’s. Try experimenting with fun toothpaste flavors your children will love. Mommy Cecille uses toothpaste flavors like Fruit Splash and Bubble Burst for her two toddlers.

    While you’re out flavor shopping, why not look out for some other additional benefits from your child’s toothpaste. Try looking for a brand that’s fluoride-free to prevent fluorosis (a condition caused by too much fluoride during tooth development). You could also prevent fluorosis by putting just a dab of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush. They don’t need the same amount as you do to brush their teeth.

    5. Make it a family affair

    Last, but never the least: your children look to you for cues. Whatever excites you will most likely excite them too.  Treat tooth brushing time as a fun activity — not an unwelcome chore to be done day after day. Make a silly song. Announce toothbrushing time like it was fun time. See the difference your own mood makes on your children’s attitudes.

    Your kids’ dental health today will form the basis of a lifelong habit. Find ways to incorporate toothbrushing into their daily routine, and your little one will thank you for it someday!

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