I have to admit that I was a little skeptical when I learned that we should be “brushing a baby’s gums” long before teeth appeared. Like most first time Moms, I continued relishing in my weekly emails telling me about my baby, only this time instead of telling me what size fruit he was, it was telling me various things I needed to do to ensure a healthy and well-adjusted child. Enter: baby toothbrushing. I do believe starting early with the first toothbrush has put us on the path to a life of oral hygiene, but we’ll have to wait and see when we have our first dentist appointment. In the meantime, here are some of the tips that worked for our family.
Use a Finger Toothbrush
Buy a finger toothbrush that you can use to brush the baby’s gums. It’s much easier to maneuver and seems less aggressive than shoving a foreign object into an unsuspecting baby’s mouth.
Create a Routine
We brush morning and night, but from what I’ve gathered, it can be once a day early on. We brush in the morning after getting dressed and brush in the evening while he’s taking a bath.
Buy a Child-Sized Toothbrush.
There are some with thicker handles so when the child is able to grasp things, these are easier for them. If they can hold the brush, they’re more likely to stay interested in the process.
Make It Fun
Let the child play with the toothbrush. I’m not sure our son loves anything more than sticking the toothbrush under the faucet while we fill up the bathtub.
Lead by Example
Let your child watch you brush your teeth, too. My son watches me brush my teeth in the morning with the same wonder and admiration as if I’m performing brain surgery. He especially likes it when I exclaim “AHHH” after rinsing.
See a Dentist
I have a few friends who have told me they waited a little too long to see the dentist only to be informed upon the child’s first visit that they had numerous cavities due to things like low fluoride in the water. I’m no dentist, but the last time I got a checkup, I asked when I should bring my son in and my dentist told me between 2 ½ and 3 years. Most of all (and this is what I’m slowly learning is the golden rule of parenting) model good behavior. If you brush your teeth, your child will want to emulate that. Think to yourself: this is an activity your child will complete multiple times for the rest of their life, so it’s worth investing in a positive beginning.