We’re a tooth-brushing family. Our toddler knows that dad’s a dentist. But even we have gone through periods where our 3.5-year-old refuses to let us brush his teeth. He’ll clamp his hands over his mouth and yell: “NOOOOO!” What to do?
Forcing him doesn’t really work. We’ve tried it. It’s not fun. But we have found some ways and tricks to encourage playful tooth brushing that gets the job done. It is possible. So we’ve put together this list on how to get toddlers to brush their teeth.
Top Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Brush His/Her Teeth
1. Magic Kisses. Ask the child how many magic kisses it will take to get them to open their mouth. It puts a little bit of power and control back in their hands. We did this with our toddler and it didn’t work the first day, but it’s worked the second day and every day since.
2. Offer to let them brush your teeth. If they can see that you don’t squirm and aren’t bothered by having anyone in your mouth they will feel better about letting you be in their mouth. Try not to gag.
3. Find a rocking toddler tooth brushing song. Any song they love will work, but make sure it’s at least 2 minutes long. We’ve put together a list of some of the most fun kids’ songs that clock in at around 2 minutes.
4. Brush your teeth together. Doing things at the same time is fun and builds routine; plus, they get the idea that this is something no one walks away from.
5. Give your kid a stool. Looking at yourself in a mirror while brushing can help interest young children.
6. Give him a turn. Start the tooth brushing by having the child do his own turn at brushing, and then explain how you’re going to make sure you both got all of the stuff off the teeth.
7. Use a sticker chart. Some children, though not all, respond well to positive reinforcement with sticker charts.
8. Brush a stuffed animal’s teeth for practice. You can show them how you are taking care of their favorite animals and teach them how to do the same.
9. Get a fun, themed toothbrush. Make it a treat for them to brush with their favorite characters.
10. Make it funny. Take the brush and brush your arm and say: Is this where you brush? Toddlers can’t get enough of this.
Good luck! If one of these tips doesn’t work, keep trying, keep improvising, and keep brushing! Their mouths will thank you for it down the road for instilling good habits early!