Do I need to brush my baby's teeth?

Q: Do I need to brush my baby's teeth?

A: Even before your baby's first tooth comes in, you should set the stage for healthy habits. Once or twice a day, wipe her gums with a piece of gauze, which will get her used to the routine of cleaning inside the mouth and help prevent bacteria from building up in her gums. As soon as a few baby teeth erupt, you can switch to a soft toothbrush. Toothpaste isn't necessary at this stage, but if you want to use it, choose one without fluoride (until your child is 4), and squeeze out just a pea-size amount. --Kate Kelly

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2007. Updated 2009