How I Taught My Son to Enjoy Brushing His Teeth
It’s not always easy to convince toddlers to do things (especially healthy things). Here’s how one mom taught her son to enjoy brushing
Becoming a mom is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my struggles! Raising a toddler has been hard, hilarious, and constantly full of life lessons. I’m writing this piece on how I taught my little guy to enjoy brushing his teeth with the hopes that other parents might find it helpful.
The first time I realized my son was officially a toddler (he’s 29 months), we were ho-humming through our usual end-of-the-day routine. The minute the word “bed” escaped my lips (I didn’t even get to “time”), there was a category-five tantrum and a tiny hurricane whirling through my living room. It was in this moment that I realized my oblivious little baby was actually very aware of what was going on around him.
From then on, everything that pointed toward the direction of sleep became a struggle, especially when it came to brushing his teeth. And while I might budge here and there on the time I’ll let his head hit the pillow, having good dental hygiene isn’t something I want to waiver on. Here’s how I taught him to look forward to brushing his teeth, rather than thinking it was a chore.
How I Helped My Son Learn to Enjoy Brushing
Practice, Practice, Practice
Routines are important, and it takes time to build them with kids. Once my son got his first tooth, I made it a point to have him hold a toothbrush and brush it around in his mouth for practice. Doing this for a few minutes each day made it much easier to transition into actual teeth-brushing down the line.
Give Little Teeth a Treat
I have no shame in admitting that offering up a small treat (like an extra 10 minutes of TV time or allowing him to pick his favorite snack at the grocery store) is how I get my son to do 75 percent of the things I need him to do in a given day. To help him actually want to use toothpaste, I told him we were giving his teeth a treat and it was going to taste really yummy. Thankfully, Aquafresh Bubblemint Toothpaste really does taste good (I’ve tried it – lead by example, they say!), so he’s not stuck with an icky aftertaste in his mouth. (An important note to parents, talk to your dentist first about when it’s appropriate for your child to start brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.)
Name the Toothbrush
Like most kids, my son loves to sing. Telling him we have to “warm up our singing voices” by saying “ahhh” helps him open his mouth as wide as he can and reach those back teeth without gagging or whining. (Warning: If you go this route, be prepared to do a few choruses of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” after. Can’t warm up those vocal chords for no reason!)
Do It Together
Kids can be unpredictable. Even with a routine, there are mornings when my son just doesn’t feel like brushing his teeth. Instead of begging and nagging on those days, I stick to my own routine – but have him come along. He’ll watch me get ready for the day and brush my teeth (I’m an Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste kind of girl), and within a few minutes, I usually find he wants to grab his brush and join in with me.
*The author is not depicted in the above image