How To Get A Toddler To Brush Their Teeth

July 20, 2014
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Does your toddler run away as soon as he sees the toothbrush? It’s not unusual. Toddlers live in the moment. They don’t care about the unclear future benefits of having clean teeth. All they know is that right now having their teeth brushed is uncomfortable, boring and it takes them away from what they really want to do – play. So how do you brush your toddler’s teeth without getting into a battle two times a day?

Model it

Let your toddler watch while you’re brushing your teeth. Your child wants to be like you and will soon ask for his toothbrush. The challenge here is to let him help you; your toddler hasn’t developed the dexterity to brush thoroughly by himself yet. After he’s had a go at brushing his own teeth, offer to ‘finish up’ for him.

Make it a routine

When you do anything consistently over and over again, a toddler comes to expect it and brushing teeth is no exception. Start small and brush for just a few seconds, then little by little let it grow into a full brushing routine.

Make it fun

Turn it into a game and all of a sudden brushing teeth is not so boring anymore. Here are just a few ways to add a bit of fun to your routine.

  • Let your toddler brush your teeth while you’re brushing his.
  • Brush teeth in front of the mirror.
  • Ask your toddler to make funny noises to get his mouth open.
  • Pretend that a toy is holding the toothbrush – a favourite teddy bear, a doll or even a car can all take turns brushing your child’s teeth.
  • Look for imaginary characters in your child’s mouth and try to catch them with the toothbrush.
  • Have two toothbrushes – one for you and one for your toddler to hold.

You may be lucky to find something that works for you every single time. Or you may need to rotate the games your play. Some nights your toddler won’t let you brush his teeth no matter what. Skip brushing if your toddler is too tired or upset, but persist with your routine on the next day. Soon your child will be the one reminding you to brush his teeth if you forget.

Image by mnarvaez via

By Tatiana Apostolova

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