Healthy Teeth through the Toddler Years

[Read More: Dental Hygiene, Healthy Snacks, Dental Care Tips, Child Dental Care, Preventative Dental Care]

Moving from baby to toddler is an exciting time! As babies learn to crawl, walk and grasp, the world gets larger and larger for them. The same holds true for food and drink. New flavors, new textures, more variety. Life is full of new things to discover. If you can at all avoid it, try not to give your child sweets in these early years. Instead, introduce him to different fruit, vegetables and dairy products. It is especially important that your child receive enough calcium and vitamin D to continue to grow strong teeth and bones.

Cute as the look of a baby with bottle may be, toddlers should be encouraged to move from bottle to sipper cup at about one year old. These specially designed cups still encourage sucking but don’t leave continually dripping milk or juice in the mouth. If your child likes to carry their sippy cup with them, it should contain only water. A good rule to continue into later years is: Sweet drinks only at meal times, after which you brush, for the rest of the day water is the best, and healthiest thirst quencher.

Toddlers snack frequently, which results in frequent potential sugary residue. This is a good time to introduce them to holding a soft children’s tooth brush and “brushing” on their own. After each snack let them wet the toothbrush and brush, then rinse well. While you will be brushing their teeth after meals and before bedtime for them for a while yet, this is a good time to introduce healthy hygiene habits. You only need a very small amount of toothpaste for your young child. Encourage interaction as much as possible. While they may not be able to brush well, they can help put the toothpaste and water on. If you have an especially squirmy child, you might want to let them brush their doll’s or fluffy animal’s teeth while you brush theirs.

If your child goes to daycare, instruct the daycare provider of your snack and drink choices. Be sure to pack a toothbrush in a safe and clean container ( a zip lock bag works well) if the child stays all day long. Encourage your older toddler to keep up their good habits. When they come home, reward them with a sticker on a sticker chart, or something similar, to let them know you are proud of them for remembering to care for their teeth.

Healthy Snacks + Healthy Habits = Healthy Teeth!

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