Think it’s too early to think about brushing Baby’s teeth? Think again. Even before his first tooth breaks through, it’s a good idea to start establishing some strong oral hygiene habits. If your little one is used to teeth-brushing as a part of his daily routine from the get-go, you should have fewer battles later on – and that makes for smoother morning and nighttime routines. If you’re not sure when or how to get started, here are a few helpful tips on brushing your baby’s adorable little pearly whites.

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1. Start Before Baby’s Teeth Come In
Keeping your baby’s mouth clean even before the first little tooth pops through is an important beginning step. Wiping her gums after feedings will help to remove surface bacteria and prevent it from sticking around when teeth do start to arrive. Try wrapping a clean, wet washcloth or a piece of clean gauze around your finger and wiping those toothless gums.

You can also try brushes designed for gums – like The RaZ-Berry Baby Toothbrush or the adorable finger puppet brushes pictured above, The Brushies.

collusor-via-pixabayPhoto: collusor via pixabay

2. Choose the Right Toothbrush
After they’ve graduated from gum-brushing, it’s time to introduce a toothbrush. You’ll want to look for one with soft bristles, a small head and a large handle perfect for little hands to hold – and you’ll want to replace it every three months or so. Not sure if you should go regular or electric? We love the ISSA mikra electric toothbrush because it does a thorough job of safely cleaning your baby’s teeth – without any struggling!

The MAM Learn to Brush Set is also a great one that features two brushes: one with a long handle for baby and parent to brush together and one with a short handle for kids to brush independently.

3. Help Them Out
Since Baby’s fine motor skills aren’t fully developed yet, it’s best if you brush his teeth for him. Since that doesn’t always go as smoothly as we like, you should at least be helping him out until he’s old enough to hold the brush. We love the “your turn, then Mommy or Daddy’s turn” approach with little ones and brushing. Definitely try to continue to supervise the process until your child can rinse and spit without help.

6097974931_ccce6f26a8_zPhoto: Andrea Parrish-Geyer via Flickr

4. Start With Water, Then Choose a Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
At first, brushing with just water twice a day is best. You can then begin using a pea-size amount of non-fluoride toothpaste once your baby is about two years old. A toothpaste like Dr. Brown’s Natural Baby Toothpaste is a great first for baby. Wait until your child is at least three years old – when they can spit out the toothpaste – before introducing the fluoride kind. At that point, you can try a very thin smear or a dot the size of a grain of rice to start.

5. Start Dentist Trips
The American Dental Association recommends that you take your baby to the dentist for their initial visit no later than their first birthday. However, you may want to ask your pediatrician’s opinion. Often your child won’t get a full cleaning before she’s three years old.

You can choose a kid-friendly dentist to help make the experience more comfortable for little ones that’s equipped with plenty of TVs, colorful art and giveaway goodies. Or you can take your child to the dentist with you so they can watch how you get your teeth cleaned before it’s her turn. And since baby teeth are important because they hold a spot for permanent teeth, be sure to take care of them by scheduling regular visits.

What’s your favorite tooth-brushing tip? Share your advice in a comment!

–Heather Dixon