It’s Baby’s bedtime again – you’ve done bath, jammies, story, and now you’re considering brushing teeth.
But you start thinking to yourself:
“He really hates brushing and fights me every time.”
“I’m too exhausted for a battle by this point in the day.”
“He barely eats food anyway. How much can he really need to brush?”
Basically the thoughts say, “I don’t feel like it – baby doesn’t feel like it – so let’s wait to do it when we do feel like it.”
Let’s be honest – thoughts that we do ‘feel like it’ rarely come when brushing the teeth of a wailing child.
Research suggests that 90% of our choices are made on the basis of whether we “feel” like it or not. Which is why most often the voices in our head win and Baby goes to bed without brushing.
Brushing a baby’s teeth falls into the category of things like waking up without the snooze button, eating healthy, exercising, and doing the dishes. And as with this bedtime brushing scenario, the more thoughts we allow to play through our heads, the less inclined we are to feel motivated to act.
In as little as 18 months, the habit of not brushing can lead to bad bacteria taking over a toddler’s teeth and forming cavities. It goes that fast if parents are unaware.
I refuse to let this happen to you and your child, and so must you.
So here’s what you do:
1) Decide to brush every day before bed, starting with your baby’s first tooth.
If your child already has teeth, it’s not too late. Start today. Make the commitment as soon as you read this.
2) Whenever the thoughts in your head start playing to get you to take a day off, use the “five second rule.”
The “five second rule” is this: countdown backwards 5 4 3 2 1.
This disrupts the “I don’t feel like it” thoughts, resets your thinking to “I’m in control,” and gives you the deadline to act – when you reach 1.
Author Mel Robbins wrote a book all about how it transformed her life and is helping many others, whether it’s with mental illness, overeating, oversleeping or even suicidal thoughts.
For us, we can apply it every day with bedtime brushing and ultimately save our child’s mouth from the bad bacteria that will form cavities throughout the mouth.
3) You or another caregiver must brush. Your child brushing their own teeth doesn’t count.
You can start by brushing as long or as short as you wish, but brush daily. Consistency and routine is the key for you and especially for your baby to learn that brushing teeth is a part of life. (For concrete tips on how to brush a wiggly or resistant baby or toddler’s teeth, sign up for my free guide to easier brushing.)
If you don’t like to hear your baby crying, brush one tooth for five seconds. That may be all you can get at first with a crying, thrashing baby.
But if you persist with this daily routine, five crazy seconds will eventually become ten wiggly seconds…which will become 30 calmer seconds…which will, believe it or not, eventually become 45 happy and easy seconds of brushing that could mean a decade of no cavities.
I know that this is true because I have done it with my own son and daughter, who were very resistant brushers at first!
The “five second rule” can transform your bedtime routine and make brushing battles a thing of the past. So just remember these three tips:
Make a firm decision to brush daily, beginning with your baby’s first tooth.
Use the “five second rule” if your thoughts start to derail you. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…go.
You or a caregiver must brush, not the baby.
You’ve got this. This one nightly decision could save you a decade of dental visits with repeat cavities and expensive bills, not to mention the nightly nagging you’ll have to inflict on a resistant child for years and years.
Your Tooth Training Challenge for This Week:
The next time you don’t feel like brushing your little ones’ teeth, start counting backwards from five, and then go grab that toothbrush. And don’t forget to sign up for the guide to easier brushing!