Don't Give Up
Continue to wield control of the toothbrush until your child masters the fine-motor skills needed to do the job right and tackle every side of every tooth -- about when she can write in cursive, around age 7 or 8. "Let your child earn it," says Mary Hayes, DDS, an ADA spokesperson. "You brush first, and if she cooperates, she can take a turn."
Whatever you do, don't give up on dental hygiene any more than you would on healthy eating and sleep habits. "My son always resisted my attempts to brush his teeth," says Dawn Raab, of Euclid, Ohio. "As a baby, he bit my fingers to stop me from cleaning his gums. After we started using a toothbrush, he screamed when I picked it up." Now 16 months, David can't wait for toothbrushing time. What made the difference? "He got a bright-red toothbrush shaped like a fire truck," Raab says.
Originally published in the November 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.
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