Your child is finally getting the hang of brushing their teeth each night. But when it comes time to spit out the foamy toothpaste and rinse their mouth, they simply swallow it. Even though toothpaste for toddlers is safe to swallow, it’s not the kind of habit that you want them to develop.
It’s easy to understand why children swallow the toothpaste—it’s usually flavored and sweet. Does this mean that you have to buy them the nastiest, most bitter-tasting toothpaste on the market? Not necessarily. That might prompt them to quit brushing altogether! You’ll have to find more tactful strategies to improve their brushing skills.
Toddlers are at an interesting stage of development; they can understand what you say and follow directions, but they don’t always listen!
Here are a few ways to teach your child to spit out toothpaste:
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Make it Fun
Often, you can help children to learn by example. Simply spitting out the toothpaste and wiping your lips might not be enough to convince them. Instead, try making an exaggerated gesture. Pull a funny face when you spit it out or make a loud noise. This can make your toddler giggle, and they’ll feel inclined to do it themselves when they brush their teeth. Kids love to do anything fun, so try to show them how brushing their teeth doesn’t have to feel like a chore.
Alternatively, you can make a game of it. Try to see who can spit more toothpaste into the sink. Or, see who can aim the mouthful directly at the sink drain. The closer you get, the better!
The next time you spit out toothpaste, ask your child what shape it looks like. Does it remind them of an animal or character? This will encourage them to spit out their toothpaste to see what it looks like.
Toddlers like to imitate their parents—use this to your advantage when it’s time to brush their teeth.
Since children learn by example, try to eat a healthy diet. Even if you’ve got a sweet tooth, it will send the wrong message if your toddler watches you eat a handful of candy. Remember which foods to avoid for healthy teeth to impart a healthy diet onto your child.
Be Selective About Toothpaste
Until your child can spit out toothpaste, hold off on buying them one that’s fluoridated. Swallowing fluoride can cause an upset stomach. Try a kid-friendly toothpaste that is designed to reduce side effects when swallowed. Even though it won’t be as protective as a fluoridated toothpaste, it’s better than one that makes your child feel nauseous!
When your toddler learns how to spit out toothpaste, then you can take them to the store to select a new tube with fluoride. This will help protect their teeth from acidic foods.
Many toddlers don’t swallow the toothpaste on purpose. It’s an instinct to swallow any liquid in their mouths, so it can be tough to unlearn this urge and start spitting out the toothpaste instead. Children’s dental developments happen gradually, and resisting the instinct to swallow toothpaste is one of the trickier ones.
Practice spitting out other liquids in the sink to help them get the hang of it. Give them a cup of water, let them have a sip, then encourage them to spit it out. Next, work on teaching them to swish the water around their mouths. This is a great way to rinse out any remaining toothpaste.
If your toddler is really struggling with spitting, you might try putting your finger in their mouth while they brush. Since they need to close their mouth to swallow, your finger will prevent them from doing so. However, you could get bitten a couple of times in the process!
Lots of children like to spit out water in the bath as they drink straight from the tap. Try to show them that they need to do the same thing with toothpaste.
Buy Them A Spitting Cup
Toddlers are always more likely to do something if it’s fun. The next time you’re at the grocery store together, let them pick out their cup. It might have a colorful pattern or a picture of their favorite cartoon character on it. Next, explain to them that they can only use their cup for spitting out toothpaste. Having a cool, new item to use when it’s time to brush their teeth will encourage them to keep up the habit.
If they have trouble brushing their teeth in the first place, you can let them choose their toothbrush and toothpaste as well. When they have their own special items, they might be more willing to listen to your instructions during brushing time.
Even though there’s no danger in swallowing toothpaste that’s made for children, it can be harmful once they get older and switch to a fluoridated toothpaste. It’s best to get a head start on this habit and teach them to spit out toothpaste from an early age.