When was the last time you told your kiddo it was time to brush their teeth and they jumped off the couch and politely said, “Oh yes, of course! Thanks for reminding me!” The answer is probably never. Getting your little ones to brush like they should can be hard. Some kids don’t like the feeling of a toothbrush in their mouth. Other kids have trouble moving the toothbrush around their mouths. And some kids just like saying “NO!”
But starting a good oral hygiene routine early helps set your kiddos up for a lifetime of healthy smiles. And one of the best ways to help your little ones take care of their teeth involves toys!
We talked with a local registered dental hygienist, Brittany Tibbetts, about some of the best ways to make brushing fun—so the next time you remind your kids it’s time to brush before bed, their reaction has a little more “Yay! and a little less “Nay!”
- Start early. Cavities are nearly 100% preventable. But it all starts with brushing 2x a day to make sure the food and debris that kids are eating is being brushed away. “The earlier you start brushing your kids’ teeth, the sooner they get used to not only mom and dad getting in their mouths, but their dentist and hygienist too. The more familiar kids are with brushing and seeing the dentist, the less intimidating it can be when they have their first checkup,” said Tibbetts.
- Monkey see, monkey do. The next time you’re ready to brush your teeth, invite your kids to join you. Let them watch you put the toothpaste on your toothbrush and show them in the mirror how you’re reaching all your teeth with your toothbrush. Or, let them practice on you. “A lot of parents find it helpful to have their kids practice brushing their teeth while they brush their kids’ teeth,” said Tibbetts.
- Jam out. Do your kids have a favorite song? Let them press play and crank the volume to turn their morning routine into a dance party. “Also, they have all kinds of fun songs you can find online about brushing teeth—Daniel Tiger and Elmo both have songs about brushing. You can sing along with your child while they practice brushing,” said Tibbetts.
- Teach with toys. As kids develop it’s important to allow them to engage in motor and mind building play. For example, building with blocks and toys that have intricate parts allow kids to work on their coordination—a necessary skill for brushing properly. “Proper brushing technique takes a lot of fine motor movements, to start honing those skills early, introduce your child to toys that enhance those skills,” said Tibbetts.
Here at Wildlings Toys we partner with parents, teachers, educational specialists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists to help families choose “just right” toys for the developmental stage, interests and skills of their individual child.
To browse our entire selection of toys that create open-ended, mind and motor building play visit us online!