If you've never brushed a child's teeth, then you might think this post is a little silly. However, going through the toothbrushing routine with a strong-willed child can be daunting. Babies are stronger than you think and when they bite down on that toothbrush or grab it and try to pull it away, there is almost nothing you can do about it.
I've managed to figure out a few techniques that work for me and Nate (he's almost 14 months old).
1. Make up a silly song. I sing a silly song every night right before we head into the bathroom to brush. I only sing it then, which prepares him and lets him know what time it is. The crazier I get with the song, the more he laughs and gets into the mood to brush his teeth.
2. Let him get his feet wet. I sit Nate on the bathroom counter with his feet in the sink and then turn the water on. This distracts him for a few seconds while I grab the toothbrush and put the toothpaste on. It also creates a fun moment for him. It's part of our routine. Of course, you should keep a firm grasp on your child to keep him from falling.
3. Be fast. This is not a chore that you can take your time with. I have to grab Nate's hands and then brush quickly. Get the top, bottom, and sides as fast as possible. I'd love to spend a full three minutes brushing and really get those pearly whites but there is no way he is going to let me. So be quick. Don't drag the process out longer than it has to be.
4. Encourage skill development. Once I have brushed Nate's teeth, I let him hold the brush and show me his skills. I encourage him to "show mama" what he can do. He enjoys watching me in the mirror and grinning with a toothbrush in his mouth. He's getting better at it each time.
5. Model. Is there a time when you can brush your teeth in front of your child? By showing them that even Mom and Dad brush, they will (hopefully) become more accustomed to the idea of brushing and begin to fight it less.
Each child is different. What works for you? Do you have a tip or trick to making teeth brushing easier? I'd love for you to share in the comments.