How to Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth


If your kids are like mine, you know that toothbrush time is a popular moment for power struggles with a toddler. For me, brushing teeth can be a dreaded chore because I’ve already been dealing with power struggles with my kids for 12 hours. I just want to get it done and skip the struggling.

I came up with a few strategies to get my kids to open up and say “aaahhh” that I shared over at Ohdeedoh today. A few additional strategies I failed to mention:

  • Brush my toddler’s nose to lighten things up and get him to laugh (and thus open his mouth)
  • Pretend like he’s in a dentist’s chair and lay him down and brush his teeth
  • When all else fails: I learned this from my oldest son (he did it to me): put your thumb on his chin and he’ll have a hard time not opening his mouth

A few strategies from the readers at the Ohdeedoh post:

  • Provide two toothbrushes so the debate is which toothbrush to use, not whether to brush or not
  • Sing “This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth…”
  • Praise the child when he complies so he’ll know that he did what you wanted/you’re happy with him
  • Try an electric toothbrush (readers mentioned the Elmo toothbrush and Dora The Explorer toothbrush) or other special toothbrush (Firefly toothbrush lights up)
  • If the toothbrush has a character on it, say “We have to feed Elmo!”
  • Use special toothpaste (reader mentioned strawberry-flavored no-fluoride toothpaste)
  • Give rewards (reader mentioned giving stickers)
  • Allow child to brush her teeth at the same time as mom or dad
  • Ask child to make animal noises to get her to open up
  • Another animal idea: animal fun – say “Open up like a big hippo” to do the molars, and “Now you’re a tiger” for a big smile/growl to do the front teeth
  • Let child brush her own teeth, then finish up for them
  • Say “can I look for choo-choo trains in your teeth?” or insert your child’s favorite thing
  • Tell your child you want to tickle her teeth
  • Show your child a video of a crocodile bird at work, and then tell her the toothbrush is the crocodile bird
  • Say “Wait, are you sure there’s no dinner left in your teeth? What about the PEAS?” and then act like an earnest detective scrubbing the brush around her mouth and ask if she can think of anything else you might have missed.
  • Occasionally miss his mouth to make him laugh

To check the original post, go here.

What do you to to get your kid to open up?