I Tried This Hack For Cleaning My Toddler's Teeth And It Actually Worked

If your child turns into a piranha when you're brushing their teeth, this is definitely worth a shot.
Have you tried this toothbrushing hack?
Natasha Hinde
Have you tried this toothbrushing hack?

When it comes to brushing toddler teeth, a lot of parents are fighting a losing battle.

As I heard one dad happily divulge in the queue at the supermarket: “Our whole family has to clean their teeth at the same time in the bathroom and sing while we do it. It’s the only way to get our 14-month-old to have his teeth cleaned.”

I can relate. As soon as the toothbrush passes our daughter’s lips, she clamps down like a piranha and starts sucking furiously at the toothpaste.

If I try to wriggle the toothbrush free, she bites down hard, splaying the bristles out like the fan of a peacock’s tail. (We’re on our sixth toothbrush as a result.)

Her hands bat away my attempts at brushing her solitary back tooth. When I try to get her to say “cheese” so I can brush the front teeth, she turns her head away and then will – more often than not – run in the opposite direction.

Needless to say, when I came across a hack for brushing toddler teeth shared by Claire Thompson (aka The Newborn Nanny on Instagram) I was ready to try almost anything to make the process a little bit easier.

Thompson, a mum-of-four and postnatal carer, suggests laying your toddler down can really aid the toothbrushing experience.

In a video shared on Instagram, she can be seen brushing her son’s teeth while he’s on his back with his head on her lap.

A voiceover explains: “If you lay your child down on your lap, facing upwards, you can see every single tooth in their mouth as you clean.”

She suggests you can sing songs to your kid or tell them stories while you brush their teeth to distract them. You could even engage them by comparing their teeth to dinosaurs or crocodiles.

“Afterward, give your child the toothbrush themselves to give it a go,” she adds.

When I tried it, I wasn’t expecting much. Actually that’s a lie, I was expecting tears. But miraculously, our daughter seemed really receptive to the idea.

She happily lay down, stared up my nose – probably why she was so receptive, let’s face it – and opened her mouth for me to brush away at her single back molar (and gums).

She even – and this is a very big deal – let me move her lips so I could brush the front of her teeth.

We’ve used this hack a few times now and every time she’s kept still and weirdly seems to enjoy it. Sometimes I have to hold her arms down with my other hand, because she wants to grab the toothbrush, but on the whole it’s been a pain-free experience.

After I’m done, I put some water on the toothbrush and let her have a go, so she can still feel like she’s taking part. Because she’s still so small and we only use a tiny smear of toothpaste, there’s no need to rinse.

Obviously the method is new to her, which might have something to do with why she’s keen to keep still, but for now I’m happy to report that this hack does indeed work – and if you’re pulling your hair out over tooth-cleaning, it’s definitely worth a shot!

It also gets children used to the idea of laying down to have their teeth looked at and cleaned, which sets them up nicely for their first trip to the dentist.

As Thompson explains: “My cousin is a dental nurse in a paediatric area of the dental hospital and we were speaking about how children are so scared lying back to open their mouths, as it is completely different to what they are used to at home.

“So I came up with this method myself, using this as a new fun way [to brush their teeth] at home, and it worked a treat! Even better, the children don’t see any fear in the dentist as it’s what we practice at home.”

Do you have a hack that works for cleaning your toddler’s teeth? Share it with us on Twitter (@HPUKParents) or in the comments below.