Failing at brushing toddler teeth

your diet of 90% refined carbs isn't going to help you teeth situation, Jack

your diet of 90% refined carbs isn’t going to help this teeth situation, Jack

Jack used to love brushing his teeth, but now that he’s almost 2 and has very strong opinions about everything it’s turning into a big struggle. I used to let him do it himself, but then I started doing it for him afterwards but that turned into a literal power struggle with me pinning down his hands which was a disaster for everyone. So now we’re back to letting him do it, but we haven’t been able to find a good way to get him to brush for longer than a few seconds.

Here are some things we’ve tried, and need to try more consistently probably:

  • Getting him an electric toothbrush is the only thing that helped a little. The first few days we got it, he brushed for a long time, but now he doesn’t anymore. At least I think it brushes more efficiently though. I have an electric one too, so he sometimes would try that and seemed to like the feeling of the vibration.
  • Telling his stuffed animals “I have a secret: Jack is great at brushing his teeth!” didn’t work at all, but I have a friend who says it works for her daughter.
  • Singing a song didn’t help.
  • Today we tried watching a tooth brushing video with a song while he brushed his teeth which worked for about 5 seconds.
  • We’ve tried having my husband or I brush at the same time, and seem very excited about it with no success.
  • I’ve also tried rewards like saying he can give the dog a treat which he loves to do after he brushes, and even giving him the reward in pieces during the process but no luck there either.

I think for now we’ll try the video for several more days to see if that works. It’s sad because I actually love brushing my teeth, so I really want Jack to have good associations with dental hygiene as well.


Nursing with teeth


Jack got his first tooth a few weeks ago (a front bottom one) and it’s been growing in really slowly. That’s fine with me since I’m so scared of getting bitten while breastfeeding! He clamped down several times before when he had no teeth and that already hurt, so I’m not looking forward to it happening with teeth.

The good thing about his bottom tooth coming in first is that while he nurses his tongue covers his bottom teeth, so I don’t feel anything sharp while he’s actively eating. He is growing in his top two teeth now (I can see them under the skin) and has bitten me a little three times in the last few days, and it’s scary to have a little pointy thing pressing onto your nipple! Luckily he didn’t bit down too hard, so I was able to do what the pediatrician said and stop feeding him and try to avoid eye contact or positive reinforcement for a little while so he learns nothing good happens from biting.

It’s sad because now I’m really nervous while he is breastfeeding during the day, and I watch his mouth like a hawk to try to tell is he’s going to stop eating and get bored and bite. At night it seems fine luckily. He also bit once when I offered him my breast but he wasn’t hungry, so I’m trying to be better about only offering if it’s been a while or he definitely seems hungry. I’m worried he won’t eat enough, but since he’s at the 50% percentile for weight I think he is getting enough food and hopefully can make up for it at the next feeding if I’m a little late in offering him my breast.

I’m not looking forward to feeling his little top teeth when those grow in though. Hopefully I won’t have the same experience as my friend who said her baby bit down and wouldn’t let go!

So to summarize what I do to avoid bites:

  • Remove my breast when it seems like he’s done eating
  • Don’t offer him my breast all the time
  • Keep my finger near his mouth so I can unlatch him quickly if he bites
  • If he bites, unlatch him and put him down and avoid any reinforcement (no eye contact, cuddles, talking) for a few minutes