From day one, we can’t wait to see our baby’s first real smile. It’s a major milestone for so many parents, a small, sweet glimpse of who this little bundle is going to be. Moms and dads can help smiles stay sweet for life by brushing baby’s teeth (or lack thereof) starting as as early as, well, day one.
Remember, every baby grows at a different pace. The following ages aren’t necessarily reflective of where your little one will be in the oral care journey. Just keep an eye their development and update their oral care routine as needed!
Brushing for Babies 0 – 6 Months
Just because baby has no teeth doesn’t mean their mouths can’t be cleaned. In fact, babies have quite a few nooks and crannies in there as their teeth wait impatiently to break the surface – which typically begins between 4 and 7 months.
Before any teeth pop up, you can keep their mouths clean with a swipe of a sterile dampened gauze pad or with Dr. Brown’s™ Healthy Wipes Tooth & Gum Wipes. The wipes not only gently clean baby’s gums and mouth but helps discourage harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. Made with all-natural, plant-based Xylitol, the Tooth & Gum wipes are fluoride free and contain no alcohol or parabens. Our wipes are dentist recommended and made in the USA.
Here’s how to use them: Grab a wipe and place it over your finger. Run that finger on the insides and outsides of baby’s gums, on the top and bottom of his mouth. You might even give him a little massage while you’re there to help soothe any soreness from teething. It’s good practice to clean baby’s mouth after each feeding.
Brushing Baby Teeth 6 – 12 Months
From the onset of the first tooth eruption, you’ll want to get baby in to see the dentist within six months. Why so early? Some research shows that babies who begin dental care by age 1 have less cavities than babies who don’t begin until they are around 2 or 3. The earlier you get baby in, the more comfortable she’ll be with the dentist.
As teeth begin to erupt, you might want to up your oral care game. That’s where Dr. Brown’s™ Finger Toothbrush comes into play. It’s made of 100% soft silicone and has two sides that work together to gently clean emerging teeth and massage sore gums. Two birds, one Finger Toothbrush.
To use, just slide the brush over your finger and use the “bristle” side to gently clean around each tooth. The massage side can be rubbed around the rest of baby’s mouth, wherever teeth are still missing. Even if a tooth has just poked through the surface, you can still clean it with the brush side. Use with or without fluoride-free baby toothpaste.
Oral Care for Babies 12 – 18 Months
Around 12 months old, baby’s teeth should be coming in on what feels like the daily. Once she has more than a couple teeth, it’s time to bust out the toothbrush and toddler toothpaste. The one-year mark also marks the beginnings of mimicking, where they’ll want to copy your words and actions. Take advantage of that by brushing baby’s teeth when you brush yours – of course helping your little one with the process.
Here’s how to brush baby teeth: Like you would yours, except gently, and try to get her tongue. Use a tiny amount of toothpaste so she doesn’t need to rinse, and a soft-bristled toothbrush like the Dr. Brown’s™ Infant-to-Toddler Toothbrush.
During this time, you might also start noticing some tooth crowding in baby’s mouth – or those trips to the dentist will bring it up. Try to get in there with some adult floss to make sure food particles (and whatever else baby sticks in her mouth) do not get stuck and bring about potential decay. Involve baby even more by taking her with you to the store and letting her help pick out her very own toothbrush.
Oral Care for Babies 18+ Months
Ah, enter the age of independence, where they simultaneously don’t know what’s best for them but they’re sure going to do it on their own. Needless to say, this is a great time to teach more independent brushing skills. And what’s the best way to learn? When it’s fun! Here are a few quick tips to making brushing more engaging:
- Buy a toothbrush for their favorite stuffed animal or doll and let them brush their teeth
- Show them videos of other toddlers brushing their teeth. They often want to mimic those their age.
- Give her control where you can, such as which toothbrush to use, which toothpaste flavor, and if you start the brushing for her or finish it for her.
- Make games out of it, such as using the Flamingo Toddler Toothbrush to catch the “fish” (her teeth) or singing “Never Smile at a Crocodile” when brushing with the Crocodile Toddler Toothbrush.
- Ensure brushing time earlier in the bedtime routine and later in the morning routine so they’re not overly tired when trying to brush. Consider making the nighttime brushing part of their bath so they’re more distracted.
While toddler’s aren’t quite ready for adult toothpaste, they can definitely use a fluoride-free version like Dr. Brown’s™ Happy Teeth Fluoride-Free Toothpaste. Fun flavors will keep them interested as they learn brushing skills.
Instilling good oral hygiene early on will help baby develop their own healthy habits as they grow older and become more independent. Make it fun, involve baby in their own grooming, and encourage him to take good care himself, one tooth at a time!