Getting toddlers to do anything they don’t want to do is a challenge. And why wouldn’t it be? Toddlers are just starting to notice they are a seperate person than their parents and that (gasp!) they can say no to things they don’t want to do (and sometimes no to things they do want to do). This is fine for some things, but other things such as brushing their teeth are non negotiable. But how do you get a toddler to something they don’t want to do without forcing them or holding them down? By making it a game, of course! Toddlers love games! And if you can make teeth brushing fun for toddlers, you’ll have a much easier time getting that brush in there.
For the most part, my toddler is pretty cooperative. I try to give him freedom on the things that don’t matter (no sweater? Fine. Use both cups at the same time? Okay). This tends to make him more agreeable for the things that do matter such as getting belted up in the carseat, or diaper changes. It does not, however, make him more agreeable about getting his teeth brush. He’ll scream and run, kick and hit… and then when I finally do catch him, he’ll clamp his mouth shut. I’ve explained to him we have to clean his teeth but that doesn’t have any impact. I’ve forced his mouth open and brushed his teeth that was but that never felt very respectful. I needed some way to make teeth brushing fun for toddlers.
Finally, I figured out the only way we can peacefully get into my toddler’s mouth is by turning it into a game. But not just any game… the animals in your mouth game.
How to Make Teeth Brushing Fun for Toddlers
We’ve tried a few different strategies with our toddler, but this game has by far been the most effective. We simply pretend there are animals in our toddlers mouth and we have to get them out by brushing his teeth.
“Oh no, Ethan, there’s a lion in your mouth!”
Most of the time, we’ll make loud, dramatic over the top animal noises after saying each animal, but occaisionally my toddler will make the animal noise instead. Which is prime brushing time for us!
And my husband and I amuse ourselves during this time by coming up with the most riduclous animals hoping the other will make the noise. Aardvark, sloth and whale have been some of our own highlights.
Sometimes, Ethan gets really creative and says Grandma is in his mouth, or some of his favorite book or other characters are in his mouth. We just roll with it and do the best to come up with a sound to make. The harder we can get him to laugh, the better.
Lately, it’s been monsters. Lots and lots of monsters in his mouth. Red monsters, blue monsters, big monsters. So many monsters.
Toddlers love games, and this is such a fun one to play while attempting to make teeth brushing fun for toddlers. It’s the only way we can get our toddler to let us! Plus it’s so simple and easy to play, and their are infinite possibilities on what could be hiding in your toddlers mouth. Cars? Turkeys? The Cat in the Hat? It’s all their and waiting to be tackled by your toothbrush.
What about your toddler? How have you helped make teething brushing fun for toddlers?