Do you need to worry about brushing your toddler’s teeth if they’ll just fall out and be replaced with adult teeth anyways?
Is it even worth it to build in a tooth brushing routine during the baby and toddler days if your child just cries and breaks out their herculean strength to escape?
Yes and No(ish).
Yes, baby teeth are actually super important and the CDC states that cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common chronic diseases during childhood. 😱 Luckily it’s never too early to prioritize your baby’s oral health.
But no, it doesn’t have to be a major struggle and you can help your baby to have fun and actually enjoy brushing their teeth every day.
If your baby or toddler is fighting tooth brushing, make it your top priority to make it fun to brush their teeth. Role model brushing your teeth and make it a big deal that you and your baby get to brush your teeth together. Add in games and silly activities to make brushing teeth fun and give your child control to help them look forward to brushing their teeth every day.
My toddler absolutely LOVES brushing his teeth (he actually reminds us if we forget 😅) so I wanted to put together all of our favorite tips and tricks to make teeth brushing fun so you never have to fight your baby or toddler to brush their teeth again.
🦷 Start Brushing Your Child's Teeth Early 😁 Build a Tooth Brushing Routine 🤗 Role Modeling and Make Brushing Teeth a Time to Bond 👍 Give Your Toddler Control 🤪 Add in Games and Silly Activities 😀 Tooth Brushing Games for Babies and Toddlers 💭 Final Thoughts
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Start Brushing Your Child’s Teeth Early
Starting your baby’s tooth brushing routine as early as possible helps to build up strong, healthy teeth right away.
But early tooth brushing also helps with oral desensitization.
This means that your baby gets used to things in their mouth from an earlier age and reduces fear and discomfort when a tooth brush (or any foreign object like food, spoons, etc.) are put in their mouth.
Build a Tooth Brushing Routine
Having predictable patterns is important during the baby and toddler years because they help your child to know what to expect.
And when your child knows what to expect, they don’t need to fear the unknown.
Set the expectation that you brush your teeth every single morning and every single night. Then build in associations and pieces of the routine that help your child to know that it’s time to brush their teeth.
Sample Tooth Brushing Routine #1: Carry your baby into the bathroom, help them to sit on the counter facing the mirror, and take out their tooth brush. Give your baby their toothbrush to play with while you brush your teeth and your baby watches you in the mirror. Then use hand-over-hand assistance to support your baby to wet their toothbrush in the sink while you sing your favorite tooth brushing song. Then put on tooth paste and lean your baby back to brush their teeth.
Sample Tooth Brushing Routine #2: Read your favorite tooth brushing book with your toddler and then ask your toddler if they want to hop or race to the bathroom. Ask your toddler to get out the toothpaste, rinse their toothbrush, and then hold it while you put on the tooth paste. Help them to brush their teeth and then let your toddler finish brushing their teeth. Then invite your toddler to help you to brush your teeth before you finish brushing your teeth. High five your toddler and put your tooth brushes away.
Use these sample routines and add in your own habits to create your morning and evening routine with your baby or toddler while you brush their teeth.
Role Model and Make Brushing Teeth a Time to Bond
Our babies and toddlers watch everything we do and want to be just like us. Use this to your advantage to make brushing teeth fun.
Whenever it’s time to brush your child’s teeth, make it time to brush your teeth too.
Either brush your teeth first while your baby or toddler sits and watches. Or brush your teeth while your baby brushes their teeth next to you.
Role modeling and brushing your teeth together helps your toddler to see that it’s okay and safe to brush their teeth and helps your baby feel special because you’re brushing your teeth together.
Give Your Toddler Control
The best way to stop fighting your baby during teeth brushing is to give them control and autonomy throughout the process.
After helping them brush their teeth, give them a chance to brush their teeth independently too.
Let them get involved with as many steps as possible while brushing their teeth, from moving the stool up to the counter, to getting the toothpaste out of the drawer, to rinsing their toothbrush, and more because the more involved they are, the more committed they are to this part of their routine.
If you’re up for it, feel free to give your toddler a little extra control and let them brush your teeth too. (But be prepared for it to be a little rougher and less coordinated than you’re used to. 😉)
Add in Games and Silly Activities
The best way to make it fun for your baby to brush their teeth is to actually make it fun to brush their teeth. Try to make every tooth brushing session as fun as you can.
Get creative from start to finish to add in games, silliness, or little playful moments during your tooth brushing routine.
Tooth Brushing Games for Babies and Toddlers:
Here’s a handful of games you can use to make brushing your baby or toddler’s teeth more fun.
1. Play Pretend
Make brushing teeth fun with games outside of your normal tooth brushing time.
You can encourage your toddler to pretend to brush their doll or stuffed animal’s teeth, pretend there are bugs on their teeth for your toddler to brush them off, or play with a toothbrush-themed playdoh set.
Your pretend play can stay pretty simple or you can get really creative and pretend to be parents taking care of their doll’s teeth, soldiers battling the sugar bugs inside their mouth, or dentists cleaning every nook and cranny of their teeth.
2. Have a Dance Party
Crank up the music or sing your own song and have a dance party to make brushing teeth more fun. You can use the music to signal when to start and stop your tooth brushing session.
3. Red Light/Green Light
Add this favorite as a game to make brushing your baby’s teeth more fun. Say green light to brush all around but when you yell red light, everyone freezes.
Call out the colors on your own or use this red light green light toy while brushing your toddler’s teeth.
4. Make Shapes While You Brush
Play with your toddler and take turns naming shapes to make with your toothbrush while you brush your teeth together.
Lines are perfect for the tops and circles are perfect for the front of your toddler’s teeth.
5. Make Silly Noises While You Brush
While you and your toddler are brushing your teeth, make silly noises. You can growl, squeak, bark and think of new noises to make after you finish each section of teeth.
6. Cuddle and Hug
Try cuddling and hugging while brushing your baby’s teeth as a way to connect. These hugs will help your baby feel safe and secure while making teeth brushing more fun.
If your baby is fighting tooth brushing or it’s hard to get all of your toddler’s teeth clean, you can also have your toddler lay back in your lap so it’s easier to see and brush all of those little teeth.
7. Animal Play
Pretend to be animals as a way to make brushing teeth fun for your child. Pick an animal and then move to the bathroom like that animal while making those animal noises. Keep making silly animal noises while getting the toothbrush ready for your toddler to brush their teeth.
8. Play “Do You Brush Here?”
Get silly and pretend like you don’t know where to brush your baby’s teeth. Pretend to brush their ears, toes, nose, belly, etc. and ask, “Is this where you brush??”
Then giggle and let your toddler show you where to brush their teeth.
9. Silly Toothbrush
Grab your toddler’s toothbrush and get it ready to brush their teeth. Then pretend like the tooth brush keeps getting stuck and can’t make it to your baby’s mouth.
Say, “Oh no!” while it zooms and zips and you try to get it to their mouth. When you finally get it, giggle and celebrate that they can finally brush their teeth.
10. Play the Guessing Game
Get silly and pretend that you don’t know what their tooth brush is for. Is it a tiny hairbrush? It is a fairy scrubber? A nose cleaner?
Then laugh with your toddler and let them tell you what it is and show you how to brush their teeth with it.
Good oral health during infancy and toddlerhood is more important than most parents realize. But it can be hard to prioritize it if your little one is constantly crying or fighting brushing their teeth.
Try to make tooth brushing a consistent part of your daily routine and build in games and silliness to make it fun for your child so they actually look forward to this part of their day.