The first thing that pops into any parenting minds when they hear about teeth is all the sleepless nights, swollen gums and the game of waiting for the white pearls to finally come out to the surface.
Teething is exhausting, but there are many other things about teeth that are super important – their hygiene, for example.
There are many things to consider when it comes to brushing a baby’s teeth. What kind of toothbrush should you use? Should you be giving a fluoride toothpaste to a baby? What’s the safest amount of toothpaste your baby can swallow? How often should you be brushing teeth? When to begin?
All of the above questions are amazing to ask your baby’s dentist – even if you’re still not taking her into the actual office, you can always phone and ask. Of course, some parents may resort to googling the answers to these questions, but that doesn’t guarantee the accuracy of the answers. To each their own, though!
When it comes to our son, we first introduced a toothbrush into his daily routine when he was eight months old – as soon as his first tooth was poking enough for the actual brushing to make sense. Before that, we cleaned his mouth regularly with a finger cleaner – a piece of cloth made to be put on a finger, soaked in water and put into baby’s mouth to clean it. It worked pretty well and we haven’t had any issues with it.
Viktor got his first toothbrush for Christmas – his tooth hasn’t been fully out yet, but we still decided to introduce him to the basics of using it.
Here’s what you can start working on in order to establish a healthy routine of brushing teeth daily! (Make sure to do all these things under supervision – a toothbrush can be dangerous for a baby whose movement isn’t coordinated yet!)
- Give your baby the toothbrush during playtime to explore
Playtime is one of the most fun and relaxing parts of baby’s day – an ideal time to show her a fun, colorful toothbrush! She’ll be happy to grab it and try to use it – show her how to do it like it’s a new game!
- After you brushing baby’s teeth, let her try repeating it
Babies love trying to do things on their own – brush the teeth for a bit, then let your baby try to repeat. The first few times I did this, my son had a blast turning the toothbrush around and trying to brush his teeth with the opposite end of his little toothbrush – it was hilarious (but also a part of learning process – he quickly learned it doesn’t do the job)!
- Show your baby books with kids brushing teeth in them
Baby books are such an amazing tool for getting kids to learn the basics about daily routines! Get a cute, hard-cover book that your baby can look at without your assistance, too. Make sure to explain what’s in the picture and why it’s important – many, many times!
- Play some games while brushing teeth to lighten the mood
Peek-a-boo or any game your little one enjoys will be perfect! It will make the learning process less stressful and the baby will have something to look forward to!
- Brush a toy’s teeth
The toy doesn’t really need to have teeth – a teddy bear whose mouth you’ll “wash” with a toothbrush is enough to make a point. Young children can’t grasp the concept of brushing teeth – it’s important to know that it’s something that happens inside the mouth, since that’s what they’ll be feeling anyway.
- Encourage your baby
Even if your little one doesn’t understand too many words, make sure to say “great job!”, “bravo”, “yay” or whatever you usually say when something exciting happens. That way, your baby will learn that brushing teeth is something to be happy about!
- Let your baby see you brushing teeth
Take your baby with you to the bathroom when you brush teeth (or come out with a toothbrush if you don’t mind that). My son laughs so hard when he sees me brushing my teeth – at least there’s some sort of interaction, I guess, and hopefully he’s learning that adults do it too!
- Play some baby videos that show characters using a toothbrush
If you don’t mind some amount of screen time, you probably already use some of the educational content that’s out there. There are many songs that represent brushing teeth – this is my son’s favorite:
However, I’m not too fond of this particular song because it teaches children to brush the teeth “side to side” – which is not recommended by dentists, although it rhymes quite nicely. So, be careful with TV, but showing your kid some of their favorite characters doing the same thing he does can do more good than harm! Moderation is key!
What methods do you use to introduce your child to brushing teeth? Let me know in the comments!