4 Tips for Brushing Your Wiggly, Wild Toddler’s Teeth

Most parents know that as soon as their little one gets teeth, they should begin to take care of them. What they don’t always know is just how tough that can be as their little on transitions from baby to toddler. While some toddlers like getting their teeth brushed, it’s not uncommon for this daily task to be a struggle for parents. If your little one wiggles and wails as you try to clean their teeth, try some of the tips below to help your toddler become more cooperative.

teeth, toddler
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1. Let your toddler choose their toothbrush and toothpaste

Most toddlers are working hard to develop their independence. Sometimes this looks like them choosing their own clothes or setting the table, sometimes it looks like a long wait as they try their best to get into their car seat by themselves, and sometimes it looks your toddler absolutely refusing to have their teeth brushed. Help your toddler feel involved in the teeth-brushing process by taking them on a special trip to pick out a brand new toothbrush and toothpaste. Often, knowing that they picked their own supplies will make them more likely to cooperate when it comes time to brush.

2. Experiment with when to brush

Dentists recommend brushing your little one’s teeth once in the morning and once in the evening. What they don’t say is exactly when in the morning or when in the evening you should brush. If brushing first thing after waking up doesn’t seem to work for your little one, try doing it after breakfast or before you leave the house. Sometimes a small change in timing can make a big difference in how cooperative your little one is. 

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3. Sing a silly song or listen to music as you brush

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It’s no secret that kids like fun. Make teeth-brushing fun by making up a silly song or dance while you brush. If you don’t feel very musical yourself, try putting on some music and rocking out as you get the job done.

4. Let your toddler have a turn brushing your teeth

When your little one simply won’t open their mouth or hold still for you, try modeling what they should do by switching places. Give your little one your toothbrush and ask them to take a turn brushing your teeth. As they start, make sure you point out the things you’re doing to make it easier for them: “Look how I hold very still while you brush! See how I’m sitting right on the sink? Watch how I open my mouth wide so you can get my teeth very clean!” When your toddler tires of brushing your teeth, let them know it’s your turn to brush theirs and remind them of everything they should be doing.

Good luck out there, parents! 

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Does your toddler like having his/her teeth brushed?

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4 Tips for Brushing Your Wiggly, Wild Toddler’s Teeth

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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