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Make Your Toddler's Toothbrush Time Easier With These 9 Tips

Toddler Toothbrush
You know that feeling you get when you realize you have a dentist appointment to go to? It's not what I would describe as a warm and fuzzy feeling. It's more like dread and despair. I mean who really likes sitting still for an hour with your mouth wide open while someone jams sharp instruments into your gums all the while telling you your oral hygiene regiment is lacking. Not exactly what I'd describe as a good time.

I think many toddlers feel the same way when it's toothbrush time. Trying to get them to cooperate and participate can be quite a challenge. Fortunately there are some tips you can apply to make toothbrush time a little easier for everyone involved. Let's take a look at eight tips that might actually make toothbrush time fun.

Don't Use A Scary Toothbrush

You only have two options when it comes to the type of toothbrush you buy for your toddler. You can either go with an old school manual toothbrush or you can go with a newer mechanical toothbrush. What's really the difference you might think but with toddlers differences is amplified. Depending on your toddler's individual likes and dislikes they might prefer one to the other.

If brushing teeth is already a very scary proposition for your toddler having the added noise and vibration of a mechanical toothbrush probably wont bring on any warm and fuzzy feelings. If the toothbrush you're using is making them even more scared it's going to make things harder for everyone. In this case we would recommend you just stick with a manual toothbrush until brushing teeth isn't a big deal anymore.

If your child isn't easily scared using a mechanical toothbrush might actually make the process more fun for your toddler. In addition it might make the overall process take a little less time. That's a win for everyone.

Buy A Cartoon Themed Toothbrush

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of toothbrush shapes, colors and bristle firmness levels to pick from. Chances are your toddler wont care about any of the functional aspects of a toothbrush or care about which one is most recommended by dentists. If you give your toddler the freedom to pick out their own toothbrush chances are they're going to reach for the one that's emblazoned with their favorite cartoon characters. If the toothbrush puts a big smile on their face then you know it's a keeper.

Buying a cartoon themed toothbrush will invite some level of familiarity and comfort to the overall process. The less uncertain and more comfortable they are to the tooth brushing process the less resistive they'll be.

If you can't find your toddler's favorite cartoon themed toothbrush go for the next best thing, color. While that may not be as a good it at least makes the toothbrush seem more personal to them and gives them a sense of ownership.

Find A Toothpaste Flavor They Enjoy

Toddlers can be extremely picky when it comes to what they deem as good tasting. What's even more puzzling is that their preferences can sometimes change from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour. I'm pretty sure they do that to mess with us parents but in any case that's the reality we have to deal with.

Fortunately your toothpaste flavor options aren't limited to just peppermint and spearmint. There are a huge variety of toothpaste flavors nowadays to pick from. Some of the more expected flavors include strawberry, grape and watermelon. For the more adventurous there are flavors like chocolate, licorice and bacon. Bacon flavored toothpaste!? Are you kidding me? I don't think the demographic for that product includes toddlers so you probably want to skip over that flavor for now unless it interests you personally.

Use A Toothbrush Timer

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Does that sound like any of the care rides you've taken with your toddler? Toddlers aren't the most patient people on the planet and if your toddler hates toothbrush time it can seem like an eternity to them. Using a toothbrush timer to track progress might actually help them from ending toothbrush time prematurely. There are a couple of reasons why a timer could help.

For starters the timer will get your toddler more involved in the overall process. By letting them start the timer they have something to look forward to at the start of every toothbrush time.

Secondly the timer provides a visual distraction. This will take some of the focus of their sense of touch while you brush their teeth. When I was a kid we had a sand timer for toothbrush time that looked like two teeth stuck together. When you're a kid watching something as simple as sand passing through an hourglass is mesmerizing.

Lastly it provides a constant reminder to them that toothbrush time isn't like that never ending car ride. Toothbrush time is consistent in duration and it always comes to an end. Toothbrush time isn't over until the timer says it is.

Turn It Into Playtime

It's so much easier to get toddlers to cooperate when they're having fun. If something isn't fun getting them to cooperate might feel like pulling a mule uphill. Fortunately turning toothbrush time into playtime doesn't require making smiley faces all over the wall with toothpaste. We have three alternatives that wont have you scrubbing the walls for hours on end.

One option to make toothbrush time more fun is to incorporate a toothbrush themed song. You could play it before it's time to brush your little one's teeth or play it while your brushing their teeth. One great place you can find a song is YouTube. Adding the video component will also help focus your child's attention away from themselves. If you're feeling creative you could also make up your own silly song and personalize for your child.

Another option is to let your toddler brush the teeth on one of their stuffed animals. Just make sure you use pretend toothpaste. Letting your toddler brush their stuffed animal's teeth will engage them more in the process and make them feel like they're not alone.

Let Them See What's Going On

Kids, including our own, can be pretty nosy at times. Our toddlers love rummaging through our stuff to see what they can find and play with. They seem to think that we've carefully hidden toys all over the house just waiting for them to be discovered. That's just part of being curious and growing I guess.

You can satisfy some of that curiosity by making sure they can see themselves while you're brushing their teeth. If your toddler can't see in the bathroom mirror while you're brushing their teeth you should consider buying a small mirror that could sit on the counter top while you're brushing their teeth. Giving them visual satisfaction of what's actually going on just might make them more cooperative.

Brush Consistently

Most adults like some sort of consistency to their daily schedule. When something comes along and throws it out of whack it can be somewhat disconcerting. The same thing applies to toddlers. If you brush their teeth at varying times in their daily routine you might find yourself trying to brush a frown.

If you prefer to brush your toddler's teeth right before sleeping then try to make that the routine. If you find it's easier to brush your toddler's teeth right after mealtime then make that part of their routine. This way your toddler knows in advance that toothbrush time is coming and it removes the unpleasant surprise.

In addition to the time when you brush your toddler's teeth you should try to make the experience last the same amount of time. If you brush their teeth too fast not only are likely you doing a poor job but you're also setting your child's expectations too low. Conversely if you take too long brushing your toddler's teeth you're probably going to wear out your welcome.

Let Them Take The Brush For A Spin

Most toddlers probably aren't ready to start brushing their teeth on their own. Having said that toothbrush time doesn't have to require parents do all the work either. After we brush our toddler's teeth we turned the brush over to them. This helps them get comfortable holding the brush and gives them the confidence to brush their teeth without any help from mom or dad.

Don't worry about the accuracy or thoroughness of their brushing technique, which will develop on its own over time. The more time they spending practicing the sooner they'll gain their toothbrush time independence. Toothbrush time is just one of the many things parents have to let go of as their little one grows up. You might not celebrate like you did with diaper independence but it's still a proud moment.

Brush Before They're Tired

Probably the most difficult time to deal with our toddlers was when they were hungry or tired. In those rare occasions when they were simultaneously hungry and tired trying to get them to cooperate was nearly impossible. Any kind request we made of them that didn't line up with what they wanted to do usually led to a tantrum.

If you can avoid doing toothbrush time when your toddler is tired your chances of success will definitely go up. If this means brushing their teeth right after mealtime then you should strongly consider doing that. Getting them to do something they might not want to when they're in an alert state will make things easier for everyone involved.
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