5 Tips to Get a Toddler to Brush Teeth without a Fight
People talk a lot about the terrible twos. Well, I think that started very early for us. After Kai turned one, my sweet, docile baby started fighting every part of her bedtime routine. She was suddenly afraid of the water, refused to let us turn on the faucet, would wave her hand violently back and forth and yell no when we tried bath time. Most of the time I could hoax her into the tub but the worst part was brushing her teeth. In my frustration, I even tried to hold her head down and her mouth open. I quickly learned that she despised me for it.
I turned to the internet and my mommy friends for help. I am happy to report that after trying these 5 tips for a few weeks, we now have a happy brusher! I have partnered with my favorite, naturally friendly toothpaste, Hello Products, to share my trials and tribulations with you.
1. Routine, Routine, Routine
Tip number 1 was probably the hardest to stick to. Whenever something isn’t working, we have a natural tendency to want to change it up. I found myself many times negotiating with a toddler terrorist. I would push back brushing, try brushing in the bath tub, sometimes forego it all together because she would throw a massive temper tantrum. I cannot stress enough, try to keep a consistent routine so they anticipate it. We finally decided to stick to a dedicated brushing time. I found the more consistent I was, the less room it allowed for improvising on her part. Our routine consists of bath, lotion/hair brushing, teeth brushing, saying goodnight to the animals, song then bed.
2. Positive Reinforcement ALL THE WAY
I have always been a huge proponent of positive reinforcement but found myself at times impatient to catch a good behavior to praise about. If I waited to praise her after a full teeth-brushing, I would never get to use positive reinforcement. We went back to the basics. In the beginning, we made the biggest deal whenever she let the toothbrush near her mouth. We kept it short and simple. At first, she would put the toothbrush up to her mouth for 2 seconds and we would jump up and down, clap and yell YAYY KAI!!! Over the course of 2 weeks, it progressed to a full minute brushing session.
3. Monkey See, Monkey Do
A tip we learned from a friend well versed at toddlers is mimicking is a huge part. We would brush our teeth first and encourage her to do the same. When she became curious about our toothbrush, we would let her explore it and brush with it too. Kai was so proud that she could do what we were doing.
4. A Song Always Helps
There is a simple song, or a toothbrush commercial that Kevin’s grandmother used to sing to him. We quickly adopted it as our brush time song. We would bop up and down to it, clapping, while encouraging Kai to brush her teeth. It turned our routine into a dance party. Frankly, it doesn’t have to be a complicated song! Just some simple, but excited chants will do!
5. The Right Toothpaste Makes All the Difference
I thought all natural tooth paste was the same. If it did the job, why change, right? Well, I never thought ending the brushing battle could be as simple as choosing a toothpaste flavor that Kai liked. I picked up Hello Product fluoride free kids toothpaste at Target because the friendly packaging caught my eye. I loved that it’s free from dyes, SLS, artificial flavors & sweeteners, parabens and micro-beads, basically all the bad stuff. Fluoride free also means I don’t have to worry when Kai sucks down all the toothpaste while she is brushing. Most importantly, I did not realize the Natural Watermelon flavor is SO MUCH BETTER than Kai’s old baby toothpaste. I can taste a night-and-day difference and preferred this one by far. Now, Kai sees her toothbrush and points to her Hello Products toothpaste and asks us to open it. Now I cannot wait to try the adult version of Sensitivity Relief Fluoride Toothpaste in Soothing Mint with Coconut Oil. Doesn’t that sound delicious?
Through this, I have learned to take things one tiny step at a time. Also, a positive spirit with lots of encouragement will work in the end, it might just take a lot of patience, a song or two. Happy brushing y’all!