It's long day battling to get your toddler into a matching outfit, eat nutritious meals, get in the car seat and have a nap long enough for you to catch up on the laundry. At the end of the day, the last thing you might want is another struggle to get your child bathed, teeth brushed and in bed. If tooth brushing has become a daily dispute in your home, check out these helpful tips for getting your toddler to comply with nightly dental care.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Make brushing a family occasion. While you might not need or want to brush your own teeth at 6 in the evening, your toddler will love the reassurance of following your lead. Face each other or the mirror and talk about each stage as you do it, giving her gentle cues along the way.
By handing over the reigns, your toddler will learn that they are responsible for their own dental hygiene. While they may not be very thorough at the beginning, you can offer to help 'finish off' after they have done the bulk of the brushing.
Have a Sing-a-long
Turn a difficult stage of the day into a fun little sing-a-long. Adapt one of your toddler's favourite songs with lyrics about tooth brushing, or even pick a melody from one of your own old favourites! This is a great opportunity to reinforce the tooth brushing routine in a fun way, while giving the activity a short time limit, which is important to keep your toddler comfortable.
Mix up the Routine
Perhaps brushing teeth after the bath isn't working, because by that point your child is tired, damp, and ready for bed. Mix up the routine a little- try brushing teeth straight after the evening meal, while your child is still fully clothed and energetic.
If toothpaste is the problem, try a different toothpaste flavour or brand, or take it out of the routine altogether- at least until a regular tooth brushing routine is established. Introducing a morning tooth brushing time when they are ready will also help to break down resistance and highlight the normalcy of the activity.
Play All Day
Bring the toothbrush out of the bathroom during the day, and create fun little activities to break down the barriers your toddler may be experiencing. Have your toddler brush her toys' 'teeth', or reverse the roles and let them brush your teeth.
Look at your local library for a book or two about tooth brushing—there may even be an episode of your child's favourite educational program that discusses the benefits of tooth brushing through songs and games. Get creative and making the process enjoyable or entertaining is going to help your toddler relax about brushing their teeth.
Don't force your child to brush their teeth by pinning them down, or otherwise creating a bad vibe—this will only hamper future efforts. Have a little fun and try a few new things until you find a method that works for your toddler. For more information, contact Alexander Drive Dental Clinic.