Each stage of childhood brings with it a new set of challenges and for us last month, getting our 18month old son to brush his teeth was a big one! He is now at the stage of wanting to do everything himself which is a whole different ball game from how smug I felt a few months back when he would quite happily open his mouth for us to brush his teeth if we just poked out our tongues and made silly faces! It seemed as though as soon as he hit 18 months, he became a toddler, and with that has come to the early independence and mood swings of a teenager. It may sound quite dramatic, but some days it’s true!
Leo has reached the mimicking age and on a good day, he was happy to mimic us while we brush our teeth by wiggling his toothbrush around his lips and biting down on it. He enjoyed it, but it wasn’t very effective! It usually lasted about 10 seconds before he got bored, the toothbrush was thrown to the floor and he was running out of the bathroom. (We then attempted sitting him down and cleaning his teeth properly to make sure none of his teeth are missed which sometimes didn’t go down too well and got us quite stressed.) On a bad day, he used to look at you sideways then plant his tummy first, flat on the floor, and refuse to move because he’d know what was coming.
As first-time parents, my husband and I are learning as we go, we usually find tips and advice from the other new parents around us and there have been some really helpful ones that helped us change all of this which I’ll share with you below.
Getting into a routine at an early age can help, but kids can be fickle and decide they like it one day then hate it the next. Creating a fun and engaging routine for them is a good way to turn a dreaded chore into something they look forward to.
A winner for us has been finding videos of cartoons brushing their teeth and showing them to Leo while he brushes his. One of his favorites is the Brusha Brusha song from Daniel Tiger.
We’ve recently started incorporating a rewards system for Leo which has helped him become interested in brushing his teeth. We use a brushing chart which we have put onto the fridge, it comes with stickers which we give to Leo once he’s finished brushing morning and night. We put one sticker on his hand and one on the chart.
We switched to the Grin brand of natural toothpaste which he likes the flavor of and means he’s happier to keep brushing for longer. Now he points to his toothbrush and wants to use it! They also have a fun kid’s toothbrushes and flossers for when he’s a bit older. Because the range is all natural it doesn’t matter if he swallows it. They have a berry flavor which Leo loves.
Sometimes giving Leo his toothbrush while he’s in the bath works well because he’s already happy playing and distracted by the toys around him.
Perseverance is key! Some days are better than others but setting up your kids with great oral care habits will pay off! It may be a battle now but saving your kids from losing their teeth early is something we just have to do.