The brushing teeth struggle and some tips how to overcome it

The brushing teeth struggle and some tips how to overcome it

Brushing those teeth – the struggle is real!

This can be a frustrating experience but persevere. No brushing can end in tears at a dentist chair. This stage does pass.


Use an electric toothbrush when age appropriate. This changed the game for us.

Let them have a turn. Negotiate “my turn first then your turn” at the sound of the beep (set an alarm or the electric toothbrush sound).

Keep a box of unusual household objects near for this time- kids love playing with stuff they don’t usually hold. Ideas here:

Here are some things that have worked for us. 

  • A toothpaste flip lid (baby must open and close)
  • A plastic bottle and screw top lid (baby must learn to screw the lid on and off)
  • A bum cream flip lid - pass them any type of cream tube.
  • An empty syringe (baby must put it back together and pull it apart, repeat)
  • A baby book (that squeaks) - anything that makes a noise is a winner
  • A long rope or piece of wool
  • A pair of plastic tweezers - open and close.
  • Clothes pegs - open and close, peg baby's t shirt, moms t shirt (baby must learn how to open and close)
  • Empty pens and lids- put the lid on and off

Take turns to show her how to do the above. Kids love challenges and this can be a good time to do this while you brush teeth. The above can all be done from about 10 months - 1 year on. Before that pin down and brush like mad (kidding not kidding).

A game to play while brushing: Catch the finger.

How it works

Hold your fist in front of her. When you pop up a finger she has to try catch the finger before you close your fist. Alternate fingers. Change turns. You try to catch her finger. Brush teeth simultaneously  (writing this is funny but it does work).

Try and make brushing teeth time fun. A bit of a pillow fight before or after creates laughter. Play horsy on the bed or aeroplane before. Get everyone in the mood. Being frustrated only makes things worse!

Good luck!

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