Hayden was a bit on the younger side when his first set of teeth came in, with his bottom two popping in right around six months of age. He proceeded to get another one to two teeth each month, and by one year old, he now has eight beautiful baby chompers that are quite sharp!
His face transformed from gummy grin to dazzling smile when he started getting teeth in, and we decided that it was definitely time to get Hayden a toothbrush of his own. After all, he utterly enjoyed watching us brush our teeth, and tried vigorously to grab the toothbrush out of our hands if we happened to be holding him during our morning routine. He was also primarily on solids, and biting through a variety of fruits, vegetables, bits of meat, bread, crackers and assorted snacks with those cute little teeth. While we may be far off from worrying about cavities and tooth decay, we figured since he was showing an interest, why not start him early in healthy oral habits? Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting once babies get teeth, so we were already off to a slow start. Read through to see how the first round of teeth brushing went, and tips on getting baby to enjoy brushing.
Starting Oral Care Early
Based on how excited he got when he watched us brush our own teeth, I figured he would be intrigued by his own first teeth brushing experience, but I wasn’t sure he’d actually let me get some brushing done. Read on to see how we introduced the brush to Hayden, which resulted in a positive experience all around!
While we technically could have started brushing his teeth when he got his first teeth at six months of age, I think waiting until he was a bit older, and had more natural curiosity about how things work and mimicking our daily routines, was the perfect thing to do. He’s old enough to want to do many of the things we do, and inspect how all things work. Start out by handing the brush to baby and let him or her just feel it, touch it, and observe it for a bit.
Toothpaste is Fun but Not Necessary
At this age, toothpaste isn’t necessary, but it’s a fun bonus. Baby wants to do all the things we do, so by adding a bit of toothpaste, just like we do, it makes him feel just like us. The flavor also makes it a bit more enticing for baby to want to put in his mouth. You can buy it, or there are countless recipes online to make your own — just make sure that you use a toothpaste that is safe to swallow since babies this age will not be spitting it out.
Of course baby will want to try and conquer brushing all by himself, and that’s just fine! Foster curiosity and the desire to brush the teeth early on by allowing some time for baby to stick the brush in and out and around his mouth for a few minutes. This is a whole new experience in taste, texture, and independence, so don’t rush it.
A Great Time for Observation
Because baby at this point is starting to really use one hand or another to perform tasks like hammering and tossing, and brushing, it’s fun to observe his use of one hand over the other; or in the case of many babies, including mine, go back and forth and use both hands equally. In the previous photo, he was using his right hand, and now he’s using his left!
Time for Mom or Dad to Help
After a few minutes of exploration, tell baby it’s time for mommy and daddy to take a turn, and you get in there to do a little brushing of your own. This will allow you to do a bit of a better job in the brushing department, and for him to get used to having you poke around his mouth for a bit.
Supplies and Tips
There are several styles and flavors of brushes and toothpastes to choose from, that are all clearly labeled for ages and stages. A soft, small bristled brush is best for this age, so it’s easy on the gums, and a gentle toothpaste that is safe for baby to swallow is what you need – if you don’t make your own. Good oral care doesn’t just involve brushing, but the foods your baby eats as well. Try to avoid very sticky foods like raisins and fruit leathers, which are loaded with sugar, and try not to share utensils, as cavity-causing bacteria can be transmitted that way.
We chose the Oral B Stage 1 toothbrush with Eeyore on the handle. He’s always been my personal favorite. But there’s also an adorable Winnie the Pooh design available as well. I love how soft and gentle this brush is, and the handle is soft grip and wide enough for baby to easily handle. So have you begun brushing your baby’s teeth yet, and if so, how did it go?