Running from the Law: Six Ways to Encourage Toothbrushing in Toddlers and Preschoolers

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Six Ways to Encourage Toothbrushing in Toddlers and Preschoolers

It wasn't until I received these tubes of toothpaste in fun colors and flavors from Hello Products and started asking my friends about their kids' brushing habits that I realized kids are pretty hit or miss when it comes to brushing their teeth.  Some kids (like Mac) LOVE it and would brush 10 times a day if we'd let him.  Others HATE it and have to be chased around and held down to get them to brush.  But it sounds like the majority of kids are rather indifferent to brushing.  
Luckily for us, Mac is one of those kids that loves to brush his teeth.  I'm not exactly how or why this happened - I'm not taking any personal credit for it.  I think maybe we just lucked out with the way we implementing his brushing or maybe he just loves the taste of toothpaste.  Either way, I'm pretty happy about his good brushing habits (Lord knows makes up for it with noncompliance in many other areas of life) and would like to encourage them, so I've been looking for ways to make brushing more fun for him to keep it up.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
1. Let your kid pick their own toothbrush.  
This sounds simple enough, but you'd be surprised how much more they'll want to use a toothbrush that they picked out themselves.  There are hundreds of choices, colors and characters.  Some that light up, some that vibrate, some that play music.  Let them pick!  Mac has a toothbrush "just like daddy's" and loves it.    
2. Get a stepstool so they can reach the sink.
This one was huge for Mac because, like most toddlers/preschoolers, he wants to do everything BY HIMSELF.  Putting a stepstool in the bathroom allows him to lean over the sink, turn the faucets on, and reach the toothpaste/toothbrush himself.  Yes, it's messy...that's life with a toddler.  He spits and gets toothpaste everywhere, but it's a small price to pay for not having to fight him on this.  
3. Try fun toothpaste flavors
Some kids hate brushing because they hate the flavor of toothpaste.  I love the taste of mint, but my step-brother was one of those kids that absolutely could not stand mint and would refuse to brush his teeth unless he had another flavor option.  I've heard kids call toothpaste hot or spicy and I can understand why they might not like the taste of it because it's really strong.  Luckily for kids these days, there are lots of options for fun toothpaste flavors.  We just got the opportunity to try some new flavors from Hello Products - bubble gum, green apple and blue raspberry.  Mac tried all three right away, back-to-back and declared pink (bubble gum) to be his favorite.
4. Let him DO IT HIMSELF
From putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush, to brushing, spitting and rinsing, it's best if I just let him do it all by himself...first.  No, he's not great and he doesn't do the best job, but giving him the chance to do it himself first lets him feel like he's in control and then he won't fight me so much when it's my turn to "help" him get the back teeth.   I gently encourage him to make sure he gets the back ones and the top teeth...and he gently ignores me and does whatever he wants.  So, yeah.
5. Sing a brushing song or set a timer
If your kid won't brush for more than a second or two, try singing a brushing song and making them brush until you're finished singing.  You can pick any song you want, but make sure it's long enough to give them adequate time to brush all their teeth (or repeat a shorter one a few times).  I've heard two minutes is ideal.  Your singing might also provide a nice distraction for them, making it go by a little quicker.  If you really want to jazz it up, add some funny facial expressions and a couple dance moves (I'm totally kidding).  And if that doesn't help, try setting a timer - whether it's on your phone, watch or a kitchen timer.  Kids love timers.  Never underestimate the power of a good timer. 
6. Lead by example
Make sure your kids see you brushing your teeth, especially when they're little.  Kids love emulating adults and acting "big," so take advantage of it and make sure they see you brushing too.  I feel like we can convince Mac to do 90% of any of the things he doesn't want to do if we do them first.  And if seeing me brush my teeth isn't enough, I call in the big guns...daddy.  Anything daddy does it alright by Mac.  It must be nice to be that loved.  Anywhoo.  :)  Hello Products also makes toothpaste for grown-ups, so daddy and I can join in on the fun.  We got a chance to try Peach Mango Mint and Supermint.  Both have a strong fresh (cold) mint flavor and reminded me of Altoids.  So fresh and so clean...clean!  They're not as sweet as a lot of other toothpastes, which I also appreciated, and left my teeth feeling really refreshed.  
Do your kids love to brush or is it a struggle?
What are your brushing tips/secrets?

Click to Tweet: 6 ways to encourage your toddler/preschooler to brush their teeth!

*I received these products for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program. All opinions are my own.


  1. Noah likes brushing his teeth but some days he just isn't into it. We have an electric jake and the never land pirates toothbrush that he really likes. My MIL works at a dentist so he gets a lot of regular toothbrushes too ;).

  2. Thank you for sharing. Just what I needed. Our Parker just wants to suck the water and paste off the brush, not much actual brushing taking place. Thanks for the tips.

  3. Mason LOVES to suck the toothpaste off right away. I'm convinced he loves the taste of it and that's the only way I can convince him to brush his teeth. That and "Mickey brushes his teeth so you should too!" LOL

  4. Cam loves eating the toothpaste, err, brushing his teeth. Ha ha. Great tips.

  5. Those colorful tubes are adorable! We may have to try "sampling" a few toothpastes. Brushing teeth has gotten better, but damn, it was a real struggle for a while. Picking the toothbrush is a great idea. I think we need to make a Target run… :)

  6. Great post! I'll be saving this for later!

  7. I think we need to start working on brushing with Jude! Great tips!

  8. great tips! So true about the letting them do it themselves!