Smiling mother and kid daughter brushing teeth in bathroom
Baby & Toddler Family & Parenting

Toddler Teeth: How to Get Your Toddler to Brush Without Tears

Some babies get that first tooth right around 6 months. Others get it around their first birthday. But whenever your baby gets his teeth, you’ll have to start brushing them to keep the gums from getting infected and keeping his new teeth healthy from the start.


When babies get teeth, it can be hard to know what to do. Experts advise using clean gauze or a soft cloth to get the job done. But that’s not always as simple as it looks. True that it’s easy to subdue a baby for a quick cleaning, what happens when more teeth sprout up? Or when that baby becomes a toddler that seems more like an agitated octopus than an adorable child?


If you’re screaming, “Help! My toddler won’t let me brush his teeth!” we hear you. If you want to get a toddler to brush their teeth or want to know how to brush toddler’s teeth without having a war every morning and evening, you’ll want to keep reading.


Here’s how to get a toddler to brush his teeth:


Step 1: Let him have a choice

Children at this age respond better to choices because it gives them the feeling that they are in charge. Really, you’re in charge, but with a carefully phrased choice, it can bring about the desired results.

Of course, the choice can’t be to brush his teeth or not brush them. So take him to the store and let him have a choice of toothbrushes. Perhaps the Paw Patrol one will get him excited about brushing his teeth. You can also lay it on thick, sighing heavily and saying things like, “Wow, I wish they made toothbrushes this cool for grownups! Which one do you like better, the Paw Patrol toothbrush or the Elmo toothbrush?”

You can bet he will choose one in seconds and be excited to go home and use it. Let him choose his kid-friendly toothpaste too although make sure you’re reading the labels. You sure don’t want him picking the toothpaste with Elmo on it if it’s a flavor he hates otherwise all the Elmo pictures in the world won’t save you from the drama later.


Step 2: Brush together

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and you better believe your child wants to be just like you. So let him see you brushing your teeth. Make it a group activity with your spouse or other siblings. Turn on fun music, dance, or make a game of it. By making brushing fun, you’ll change the dynamic.

How long should a child brush their teeth? According to WebMD, 2 minutes is the magic number so make sure you keep it up for at least that long!

mother teaching kid girl teeth brushingStep 3: Let it go

Take a cue from Elsa and Anna and let it go when it comes to precision. There’s no need to be the toothbrush police. It will just upset your toddler and make him hate brushing his teeth more than ever before.

The most important step in teaching a toddler to brush their teeth is just to get them to make a habit out of it. There will be time to help him perfect the technique soon enough.


Step 4: Balance things out

Until your toddler becomes a better brusher, you can help protect his teeth in other ways. Try to serve him more healthful food choices with less sugar involved. This will help protect his teeth and strike more of a balance until you get a better handle on how to get your toddler to brush his teeth right.

cute toddler boy brushing teeth
Cute toddler boy brushing his teeth


Step 5: Show and tell

If Grandma has teeth she didn’t take good care of, see if she’ll be willing to be an example and show your toddler what happens when they don’t take good care of their teeth.

But what if you don’t have a living breathing example of bad teeth in your inner circle? That’s when you can use Google to your advantage and show your child what happens if you don’t brush your teeth. Don’t be too scary though. You don’t want to accidentally create a fear of the dentist with this technique.


Step 6: Visit a pediatric dentist

A pediatric dentist can also help show you how to brush toddler’s teeth. You might like your dentist, but he or she might not have experience with children.

A pediatric dentist has been trained to work with young children, plus they can show your child how to brush the right way. They give out stickers and know how to make visiting the dentist a fun experience instead of a scary one.


Step 7: Heap on the praise

Toddlers, in particular, respond to praise so when your toddler asks to brush his teeth or goes and does it without being told, be sure to make a huge deal out of it. Praise for good behavior helps reinforce that behavior.

And guess what? It’s more likely to lead to a repeat performance of that good behavior, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

toddler boy brushing teeth

Step 8: Exercise your patience

Every step with a toddler is an exercise in patience, especially when it comes to how to brush toddler’s teeth. As with all things toddler, it’s important to keep calm, offer encouragement and be loving.

Follow these steps, and you’ll soon find your little guy stops resisting when it comes to oral hygiene and embraces it, as well as his themed toothbrush with incredible gusto!

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