Are you tired of teeth brushing time in your house being a time of anxiety and upset for both you and your toddler? Are you looking for some gentle, Montessori-aligned teeth brushing tips?
You have come to the right place.
Brushing your toddler's teeth doesn't have to be a big struggle. There are plenty of strategies you can implement that can help your toddler feel more at ease with the process.
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How do I brush my toddler's teeth without a fight?
At some point in time, your previously agreeable toddler may being to resist having their teeth brushed.
At this age (the exact age will vary but this generally occurs between 18-24 months), toddlers are realizing increasingly that they are separate beings from their mothers – the owners and operators of their own bodies.
Toddlers learn that they can say “no” to things they do not want, and who really wants someone reaching into their mouth with a toothbrush?
So, cleaning a toddler's teeth naturally becomes a struggle.
There are ways, though, to give your child the autonomy they crave while making sure they get their teeth brushed.
9 Montessori-aligned teeth brushing tips for parents
Allow your child to pick out their own toothbrush & toothpaste
Does your child have a favorite animal, book character, or TV show? I'm sure they do!
Cash in on your toddler's desire for autonomy in decision-making and have them accompany you to the store to pick out their own toothbrush and/or toothpaste.
This serves 2 purposes – to give them some power in the situation and to get them excited about brushing their teeth.
Let your toddler take a turn first
Toddlers love to do things themselves, but teeth brushing isn't something that should be left up to a child until at least 6 years old. (Many children need help brushing their teeth well past 6.)
You can try setting a timer for your child and for yourself. Your toddler can brush for X number of seconds and you can brush after them for the full 2 minutes.
Montessori Practical Life Brushing Teeth Presentation
Teeth are cool. They're fun to count, learn the names of, and care for.
Toddlers may not be quite ready for a formal presentation of this Practical Life Activity, but investing in a tray of learning materials, depending on your child's temperament, may be a great idea.
Have your child watch you brush your teeth
It's important to allow our children to witness us perform self-care tasks.
Toddlers need to see that we take the time to care for our own teeth.
Just like any other task of our that our kids emulate, seeing us brush our own teeth may prompt them to want to do the same – and hopefully allow us to help them.
Melissa & Doug Super Smile Dentist Kit
Contrary to popular belief, pretend play is encouraged in Montessori homes. Children enjoy mimicking what they see adults do and Montessori encourages this.
If your toddler has visited a dentist, getting them a toy dentist kit, like the one below, can help them explore and get excited about oral care.
Plastic toys with playdoh “plaque”
Giving toddlers a chance to practice a skill on their own, during play, is a great way for them to make sense of the lessons we've given them.
Putting a bit of playdoh on the teeth of any plastic toy and setting a toothbrush next to it is the perfect invitation for a toddler to explore the concepts involved in teeth brushing.
Teeth brushing songs
I remember a morning a couple of years ago wherein we were in a bit of a rush and I ushered the kids toward the door in the morning before their teeth had been brushed.
My 3.5-year-old stopped me and sang “Twice a day, get it done. Put a little toothpaste on! Mommy, we have to brush our teeth!”.
It was from a teeth brushing song we listened to a lot on our Alexa at the time.
If you search Youtube or Amazon Music, you will be able to find some fun songs about brushing teeth.
Kids love music. So, if you are having trouble with getting your toddler to let your brush their teeth, listening to some fun teeth brushing songs can help.
Take advantage of bathtime
In our home, we've always taken advantage of baths for self-care tasks of all kinds.
This is because baths are fun (the kids are agreeable in the bathtub) and the kids are already in the mood for getting clean.
Set up a self-care station in the bathroom
If you want to provide your toddler with maximum autonomy when it comes time for oral hygiene, setting up a self-care station in your bathroom is a great idea, provided you have the room.
Having child-size spaces and small furniture helps toddlers feel important and capable.
The toddler bathroom self-care station in the image below can serve as a great guide for putting together your own.
The phase wherein brushing your child's teeth is a struggle, though it feels like a mile-long uphill battle, is fairly short for most families.
With these Montessori-aligned teeth brushing tips, you may be able to get ahead of the challenges or at least meet them head-on.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Any gadgets, games, or other tricks that have helped get your toddler through the toothbrush battles?
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