Learning Care Group News: June 21, 2012

Top Five Toddler Toothbrushing Tips

Toothbrushing time at our house used to be so stressful that by the end of it, my teeth would be clenched as tightly as my toddlers.’

Here’s why: Toddlers are hardwired to resist people sticking anything into their mouths. It’s a protective measure Mother Nature created for our little ones’ safety. And sometimes, toddlers are just plain resistant. But of course, little choppers need to be cleaned. So don’t get mad – get creative. Explain – often – that teeth must be brushed. Sympathize with the fact that she may not like toothbrushing. But tell her you’ll make it fun – together.

Four children (and no cavities!) later, here are my Top Five Brushing Tips:

 1.  Brush together. Make it a regular part of the nighttime ritual. Toddlers love to mimic their parents and siblings, and the family routine reinforces brushing. Then, take turns brushing each other’s teeth. This gives you a chance to give those little choppers a good scrub.

 2.  Bath-time fun. Lots of toddlers love to brush in the bath – and nowhere else. To give him control, hand him another brush to clean his ducky’s teeth, while you brush his.

3.  Sing songs – the sillier the better. Work a second or two of brushing into several key moments in the song. Laugh. Sing. Brush. Repeat.

4.  Goof it up. Look into her mouth and act shocked that your child’s fave foods, animals, and characters are stuck in there. “WHAT is an ELEPHANT doing in your MOUTH? Let’s brush him outta there!”

5.  More goofiness. Teeth can be tickled, counted, and admired to keep his mouth open long enough for brushing. Or have him roar like a lion so you can get your loud lion’s teeth sparkly clean.

Over time, your child will resist less – and brush more. Happy brushing!


Have you tried any of the tips above? What works best for your little one?

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.