FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $150 | After Pay on orders over $150

How to brush your toddler’s teeth – and tips for when they refuse

Every parent knows that a toddler’s favourite word is no. 

Sometimes our tamariki can drive us mad with their refusal to do anything we ask, and it’s tempting to give in to their demands. 

But while they may not like it, your toddler’s teeth need to be brushed. We’ve put together some helpful tips to get their buy in, and hopefully avoid the daily tooth brushing tantrum.


  • Get into a good routine of brushing twice a day, at the same time. Once in the morning and once before bed.

  • Give lots of praise. “Gosh, you are doing such a great job. Your teeth are going to be so sparkly.”

  • You will need to brush your child’s teeth until they reach around age 6 or 7 when they should have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth thoroughly. After this age it’s important to check they are doing it correctly.

  • Aim to brush for around 2 minutes. Use a fun toothbrush timer.


  • Use a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush and be very gentle.
  • Select a mild flavoured or children’s toothpaste (containing fluoride) and use it sparingly. Use the smallest smear of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. As your child gets older, you can increase this amount to the size of a pea.


  • Brush along with them. You brush your teeth, while they brush their teeth. Start with this, but make sure at some point, you hold their toothbrush and give their teeth a brush too.
  • Get your toddler’s ‘buy-in’ by letting them select their own toothbrush colour and style.
  • If initially, the brush is a ‘no-go’ start with using your finger, a muslin cloth or finger toothbrush and progress onto a toothbrush.
  • Use a sticker chart and a reward at the end of the week.
  • Use teamwork. If you have another adult (or sibling) to help, try working together to clean your toddler’s teeth. Use distraction, fun and silly songs or games.


Persevere. It’s so important to look after your children’s teeth and help them learn that cleaning teeth is a non-negotiable. If you keep encouraging and being consistent, it will get easier.

Credit: Kowhai Dental

Looking for some Toothbrushing friends to make toothbrushing more fun?

Net Orders Checkout

Item Price Qty Total
Subtotal $0.00

Shipping Address

Shipping Methods