Posted on 28. November 2016 by
The day you notice that first little tooth poking through your baby’s gummy smile is so exciting, isn’t it? Teeth change the shape of our face, and there are few things more endearing than a little one proudly showing off their brand-new pearly whites.
For us parents, though, that first tooth also means we need to add a new and sometimes challenging element to the bed-bath-sleep routine. Fortunately, with a bit of preparation (and a few clever tricks), brushing doesn’t have to be a battle. Here are a few of our best tips on keeping your little one’s teeth clean and healthy.
- Start early. As with many things, making tooth care a regular part of your routine from the beginning will go a long way toward eliminating any resistance. In fact, there’s no harm in starting tooth care before your baby even has teeth – keeping their gums clean is a good idea anyway. Wipe the gums with a clean, damp muslin nightly, or look for a ‘chewable’ baby toothbrush (there are a few innovative designs on the market) to let them have a gnaw on during the bedtime routine. As they get a bit older, you can move on toward more formal brushing – but by then, they’ll have come to expect it as a matter of course.
- Try to avoid giving too many sweet drinks. You might not realise it, but milk already contains natural sugar. Letting your little one doze off with a bottle or sippy cup of milk or juice leaves those new teeth bathing in a sugary environment for hours – and that sugar is the perfect food for decay-causing bacteria. If your child likes to take a bottle or baby cup to bed, we recommend putting water in it.
- Give them some (limited) control. The trick here is to stand firm on the basics – we brush twice a day, every day, no exceptions – while also giving your little one a measure of choice and control. Perhaps they’d love to choose their own kids’ toothpaste, or pick out a special brush with superheroes or sparkles on it? Or maybe what they’d really love to do is to ‘help’ you with your brushing before you help them with theirs?
- Don’t forget the power of silliness. It can be pretty tough to get an active toddler to hold still for long enough to manage the recommended 2 minutes of brushing – honestly, has 120 seconds ever seemed longer? - and letting them run around with brush in mouth is definitely not recommended. But making up (or playing, via iPad) a silly brushing song or two can help those seconds fly by.
- If all else fails, try it in the tub. This has worked for many a parent whose active toddler wouldn’t hold still otherwise. If you have to, make it a game – you can ‘brush’ the teeth of everyone in the bath, alternating between your child’s teeth and those of their toy ‘friends’. Many toddlers find this hilarious enough that they just might let you get away with it...
What clever strategies have you come up with to get those little teeth clean? Help a desperate fellow parent out by sharing your hard-won wisdom over on our Facebook page!