When we first brought our daughter home from the hospital, I knew things wouldn’t always be easy. I knew we’d have sleepless nights, I knew she’d fall and hurt herself, and I knew there would be days when I thought I was going to lose my mind, but I never, in a million years, thought I’d struggle to get a toothbrush into her mouth.
And yet I did – every single day.
In fact, I was still ‘brushing’ her teeth with my finger and a washcloth when she turned 3, but I soon realized enough was enough and that I had to make some changes. So I asked my awesome Facebook fans for their help, and they shared some great tooth-brushing tips for toddlers that I hope will help another poor soul who struggles with this part of parenting as I once did.
1. LET HER PICK HER OWN TOOTHBRUSH
Did you let her pick out the toothbrush and toothpaste? My daughter finally relented when it was a Cinderella toothbrush. –Whitney
My son stopped fighting toothbrush time when I got a battery powered kids spinbrush. –Erica G.
2. TAKE TURNS!
Let her brush yours if you can brush hers. –Shanon H.
My daughter is 27 months. I brush my teeth while she uses her own brush, then we switch…..she brushes mine with my brush, I brush hers with her brush. –Sara H.
3. WARM HER UP TO THE IDEA SLOWLY
If it’s the brush they don’t like let them play with an extra one so they don’t fear it. They can brush dolls or trucks to clean them. Also, you can put something on their toothbrush they like (even if it’s not the healthiest) just to get them used to the brush in their mouth and slowly switch to toothpaste. You will still have to clean it with the cloth afterward until they get use to the brush. –Melody L.
4. MAKE IT FUN!
My daughter and I used to “race” to see who could brush the longest. And she wrote on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker with “winner” hash marks. She always beat me. –Christine D.
Have her lay on the floor with her head in your lap while you sit cross legged, and pretend to play dentist and brush. –Courtney P.
We tell our 3yo there are dragons in her mouth that will eat her teeth and that you have to brush to keep them from eating your teeth. She thinks it’s funny when we “chase” her dragons with the toothbrush! –Taylor J.
5. SCARE HER
(I had a lot of backlash on this one, and just want to confirm that I did NOT use this tactic with my daughter, nor do I recommend it – I’m just sharing strategies that have worked for others!)
I’m mean. I tell them if they don’t brush, the dentist will have to use a drill like Daddy uses to build, in their mouths to fix their teeth. Oh, and they will need a shot. Cruel? A little Effective? Yes. –Romy P.
6. GET HELP FROM PROPS
There’s a book – it’s a Norwegian one called ‘Karius and Bakkus’ and it got me in there to brush!!! And we used those stupid flashing toothbrushes. Also let them brush my teeth. –Joy H.
Disney and Oral-B have this awesome app out. Well, the *concept* is awesome, but the app itself is horrible. You make profiles of your kids, then you scan your Oral-B products. It shows a little picture for 2 minutes while a toothbrush brushes the bubbles off of it to reveal what the picture is. Then the kids get a sticker after the brush. The app is so awful, it crashes all the time, doesn’t open, etc. So why am I recommending it to you? The 3-5 times it did actually open was enough for my son to get over his INSANE fear of tooth brushing. He would scream and scream and cry while it took both my husband and I to get him to open his mouth so we could shove the stupid toothbrush in. After the app, he now brushes (mostly) willingly and without incident. So maybe it’ll work for you, maybe not, but if you can get that app to open and work, I’d give it a shot! –Katie P.
7. STOP STRESSING ABOUT IT
No one ever had to sit on a 10 yr old and brush her teeth for her. Well, not to my knowledge any way. –Penny L.
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