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With the arrival of the baby on the scene, my parenting style has definitely become more laid back. It’s had to, there’s no way we’d make it through the day in one piece otherwise. Yet whilst the tv is on that little bit longer and the bribes are far more free flowing, there are a few things I’m not prepared to budge on. The main one? The importance of looking after your teeth. ‘You only get one set of teeth’ – I remember my mum saying over and over to me as a child. And despite the fact that like most children I was keen to point out her error, ‘Actually mum, you get two’, now that I’m older I find myself pushing the same message; tooth care is important, from the word go. The practices that we put in place now with their baby teeth will also help to keep their adult set (currently waiting patiently up in their gums) nice and healthy too.
With that in mind, it’s vital to me that we make tooth brushing twice a day part of our routine. Morning and night, from the moment their first tooth pops through their gum (any day now for the baby judging by those rosy cheeks and rivers of drool) and for at least two minutes each time. It’s easy to say, isn’t it? Two minutes for a full set of baby teeth, less if they only have a couple poking through. Yet those two minutes have the potential to last forever if it’s something that your child doesn’t want to do. Trust me, I own a headstrong toddler, I know that!
Life’s too short to have the same argument twice a day or to wrestle a toothbrush around a small child’s mouth for two of the longest ever minutes and, as I said, their teeth are too precious not to clean. We’ve been educating ourselves on what little teeth need and how to make brush time a fun part of our daily routine. How? We’ve been working with Aquafresh who not only have a website packed with information and ideas but have also asked us to share some of our personal tips and tricks with you. Fancy learning a little more? Then read on.
Getting The Right Tools For The Job
First up, it’s important you get the right equipment for the job. Did you know that there are different toothpastes and brushes to use depending on your child’s age? A child’s tooth enamel is 50% thinner than it is for us adults which is why they need special, child-friendly products. For little ones aged 0-2 like we have, you should be using the Aquafresh Milk Teeth range. The iconic Milk Teeth toothpaste with its gentle minty flavour is tough on decay yet not too abrasive, whilst the easy to handle Milk Teeth toothbrush has special soft, multi-angled bristles designed to surround their teeth as you brush. What does that give you? A perfectly developed combination to protect against cavities and be kind to your baby’s teeth and gums for the first two years of their life.
Brush Up On Your Technique
You’ve got the equipment, but now what? It’s time to brush up on your technique, pardon the pun. Remember, you should start brushing as part of your daily routine from the moment that your little one pops their first tooth, whether that’s at three months or twelve! Brushing should take place twice a day and last for two minutes once they have a full set of teeth, less if they’re not quite there yet. For children under three, you’ll just need a small smear of toothpaste on the brush (once they’re older than three, you can move on to that pea size that we all hear about!). Then get brushing! Anyone under the age of six should be supervised brushing their teeth to ensure they get the job done properly, and in our case, don’t take an eye out with the brush. Once those teeth are nice and clean, get them to spit out the paste (no swallowing please!) and if it’s bedtime, remember to try and avoid any food or drink after brushing!
Brushing Doesn’t Have To Be A Chore
On to the fun part; you’re clued up, you’ve got the right tools for the job, all that’s left is encouraging your little darling to join the party. Easy, right? Well it can be if you make it fun enough. Here are some of the things that have worked well for us…
One of the toughest things we found was getting our son to make the right mouth shapes whilst we brush. He was constantly shutting his mouth around the brush or trying to chew it! In order to get his mouth open nice and wide we now turn tooth brushing time into a roaring contest. With a dinosaur obsessed child, he loves pretending to be a T-rex and doing his best ‘ROARRRRRRR’ whilst we brush away and roar right back at him. It’s noisy, there’s often arm movements involved and it almost always ends in giggles. He loves it and completely forgets we’re brushing his teeth, win win.
Now It’s Your Turn…
One of our toddler’s favourite things to do in the world is to copy us, from our mannerisms to our actions and even, god help us, our sayings. We tend to brush our teeth at the same time as we do his and naturally he wants to follow our lead but he’s still lacking some of the coordination required. Instead, we take it in turns. We brush his and he brushes ours right back. Just heed my warning, toddlers can be vicious with a toothbrush! If you don’t fancy being attacked by a brush wielding toddler, do like we do and rope in an unsuspecting teddy bear instead.
Let Them Help
Just because they have to be supervised, doesn’t mean they can’t have their own jobs as part of the process. Like most toddlers, ours has a major independent streak at the moment so little tasks can help temper that attitude and make him more amenable to things. He has a step to allow him to stand at the sink alone if he wants to and from there he can reach the tap to turn it on ready to wet his brush. Once he’s wet it, he’ll hold the brush ready for us to apply the paste and just like that we’re ready to go. If he’s being particularly… challenging… he’ll start his own brushing before we step in to take over for the two minutes. At the end, he’ll pack it all away, spit like mad and wipe his face on the towel. He loves it. Toddlers are funny little things but hey, if it works, it works.
Ahhh the iPhone. As much as I want to limit his screen time, even I have to admit that a well-placed app can make life a lot easier. Take for example, the Aquafresh Brush Time app; a free, two minute timer (available here for both Apple and Android users) that’s fun to use and turns brushing into a night-time boogie. Meet Captain Aquafresh and the Nurdles as you set up your child’s account, personalise their character, pick a backdrop and a tune and get brushing. It’s entertaining, catchy (worryingly catchy) and my favourite part is it allows them to build up points with each brush allowing them to unlock new backdrops or outfits turning it into a game, something that’ll work really well as he gets older.
And there we have it, just a handful of the things we’re doing to take the stress out of toothbrushing and make it a fun part of our daily routine. If you’d like to learn more about the right type of product to suit your child and how to make brush time fun, visit the Aquafresh website. It’s packed full of information and ideas to help you protect your little ones teeth from birth right through to adulthood!