How to brush your toddler’s teeth in 37 easy steps

A toothbrush with the words "How to brush your toddler's teeth in 37 easy steps" superimposed.

Despite being a parent of three and with well over seven years’ experience, there are some things I still haven’t mastered.

Cleaning the teeth of a toddler is a good example. Having been there, seen it, done it and got toothpaste on the proverbial T-shirt twice before, it should be simple. Yet it really isn’t.

I’ve tried many different approaches with little success. I can’t be alone in this. Surely I can’t. So, just in case it helps other hapless parents, here is the speediest process I’ve found. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s how to brush your toddler’s teeth in 37 easy steps.

  1. Get your toddler to the bathroom.
  2. Chase after your toddler when they inevitably run away laughing.
  3. Return your toddler to the bathroom.
  4. Realise that their toothbrush has gone missing and initiate a house-wide search.
  5. Become distracted by other family members looking for lost TV remote control.
  6. Find remote control.
  7. Find toothbrush.
  8. Return to the bathroom to find toddler has run off again.
  9. Find toddler feigning sleep in somebody else’s bed.
  10. Return toddler to the bathroom.
  11. Apply toothpaste to the toothbrush.
  12. Ask your toddler to open wide.
  13. Plead with your toddler to open wide.
  14. Sob.
  15. Attempt to bribe toddler to open wide.
  16. Confiscate dummy that has suddenly appeared in your toddler’s mouth.
  17. Begin brushing your toddler’s teeth.
  18. Plead with your toddler to stop biting the toothbrush.
  19. Tickle your toddler to make them open their mouth.
  20. Remove toothbrush to inspect the latest damage inflicted upon it.
  21. Attempt to begin brushing your toddler’s teeth again.
  22. Engage in a battle of wills with your toddler before surrendering control of toothbrush to them.
  23. Watch in despair as they chew the toothbrush.
  24. Attempt to take toothbrush back.
  25. Receive an accidental but nonetheless painful smack to the nose.
  26. Blink away involuntary tears and regain composure.
  27. Attempt various safe wrestling holds while brushing your toddler’s teeth.
  28. Contemplate rinsing brush but decide it’s not worth the risk.
  29. Realise that your toddler is a mind reader who wishes to rinse the brush.
  30. Allow your toddler to do so in order to avoid further tantrums.
  31. Attempt to stop toddler spraying water everywhere by placing toothbrush immediately below tap.
  32. Fail miserably and sob again.
  33. Wipe water from walls and floor.
  34. Attempt to recommence toothbrushing process.
  35. Attempt to stop toddler biting toothbrush again.
  36. Sigh the line “That’ll do” and allow your toddler to run away laughing.
  37. Sit on the floor hugging your knees, rocking backwards and forwards.


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