Brushing teeth is one of the most important and healthy habit that parents can instill in their children. It sometimes is a struggle and sometimes seems just impossible to make your child brush without any tantrums. But, actually we can make it fun and exciting for them, so that they voluntarily ask you to brush their teeth leaving behind all the drama.
So lets look into 10 ways you can help your toddler get in the habit of brushing their teeth regularly.
1. Start Early
Brushing of babies teeth, according to the American Dental Association should start as soon as the babies first tooth erupts in the mouth. Infact, cleaning of the babies gum pads and the tongue should start after birth after the baby takes feed. This helps in developing a habit and the baby gets use to it the way we carry out the other routine activities like taking a bath or combing our hair. So, the earlier we start the better it is. A silicone finger brush can be used initially and later can be shifted to a normal kids age appropriate toothbrush.
2. Make brushing a game
Kids do not understand the importance of brushing, so they will find it boring and something they will not want to do. Make it a game. Make a story about the sugar monsters that might come and attack the teeth if we do not brush them away using our sword i.e. our toothbrush and toothpaste and drive them away and not let them eat off our tooth which is prince or the princess. Let them get involved in the story and make it more interesting, by making some “dishum dishum” sounds. they will love it, laugh along with you and will be ready to brush twice a day as you want.
3. Let them brush your teeth
Let them brush your teeth. It might get a little messy, but they will enjoy it and then atleast let you brush their teeth in return. They will understand that brushing is important not only for them, but even for you, and might not take it as a punishment or something that they have been forced to do. It will give them a sense of satisfaction.
4. Make it a family time
A family that brushes together stays together. Make it a family time. It will help in spending more time together, along with forming a good habit for your child and also letting your child know how important it is to brush his or her teeth in order to stay healthy. They might be looking forward to this time of the day.
5. Let them choose their own toothbrush
The tools should be right. Let them choose their own brush. Take them shopping and show them all the colors and the designs of the brush they can choose them from. But make sure the size of the brush is age appropriate in order to provide proper cleaning of the teeth and other parts of the oral cavity.
6. Sing to your baby while brushing
You can sing to your baby while brushing to make the experience more interesting and playful. You can sing any song your child likes, or any brushing song or for that matter just make up a song and sing and keep it for just the brushing time. This will make the baby again more interested in brushing. Personally I just sang “zum zum zum, zum zum zum” to my baby when she was an year old and she was caught up in that alone.
7. Set a good example infront of your child
Parents should set a good example of brushing their own teeth twice a day daily, infront of their children so that they understand it is something they should never miss. Make it a point that your child is aware that you are following the routine without skipping a day.
8. Pretend play Dentist
Pretend playing dentist with your child. This will first let them know who dentists are and secondly they will understand why we need to go to a dentist. Tell them besides the routine dental visit a dentist will help fill any cavities that there might be in the teeth. Also make them understand that the cavities will occur incase we do not brush our teeth properly.
9. Toothpaste is important
The toothpaste you are using is important. May be the child is not liking the taste of the toothpaste you are using, so, try changing the toothpaste, but make sure it is a kids age appropriate toothpaste.
Another reason can be that you are using a wrong amount of toothpaste and your child is finding it difficult to brush with it. The right amount of toothpaste to be used is a grain size for a kid younger than the age of 3 years and a pea size for a kid above the age of 3 years.
10. Give them rewards
Let them enjoy some incentives. This will make it more fun for them. Make a chart week wise and you can put a surprise sticker on it whenever they brush. and once the chart is full, you can give them a bigger gift like a toy at the end of the month. Remember not to give rewards like candies or chocolates as they are cariogenic and should be avoided.
Make your child agree to something that he or she doesn’t like is a trick. We as parents need to find out which technique works the best with our kid. According to my personal experience the best thing that works for developing habits like brushing, potty training or anything for that matter is starting early. The earlier we start the better the kid accepts it, that it is a routine and nothing that is forced on them. It is taken as something very normal like drinking milk when hungry. But as a parent it is you who needs to decide how to get your child into the habit.