The Lowdown on Toddler Tooth care by Caroline from AVIDIVA
That first glimmer of white usually appears between the ages of 6 and 10 months. Although some bubs are even born with a tooth or two, and others won’t crack their first until after their first birthday. Between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, our bubbas will gain all 20 of their teeth!! Eeeeeep, yep 20! It’s a good job we can’t remember this stage when we grow up, as teething is SO not fun (for mum or baby). The sore gums, endless drool, irritability, upset tummies, rashy chins and bums, restlessness… it’s not nice to see your little one so uncomfortable.
Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw. These teeth can appear out of the gums in any order they like, but often you will see the two middle bottom teeth (central incisors) pop up first. Last to come in are the molars at the back. This set of baby teeth are then replaced with 32 adult teeth from around the age of 6.
Infographic credit: Mamanatural.com
Along with the pain and sleeplessness of teething come a few questions about how to care for these little teeth now they are here. We’ve done our research and have compiled a bunch of answers for you lovely:
Should I be cleaning gums before any teeth have even come through?
Yes! You can use a clean damp cloth to just wipe over the gums to clear away any harmful bacteria. If they are teething, they will love the pressure on the gums. Plus, it gets baby use to the idea of teeth cleaning and you sticking something in their mouth… #winning
How often should I brush their teeth?
Same as with adults, these baby teeth need cleaning twice a day – in the morning after breakfast and before bed, after dinner.
What should I do to clean them
Brush the inside and outside of their teeth, as well as their tongue, if they will let you! No need to worry about flossing at this age (only when teeth start to touch, and the brush can’t get in between them).
An age appropriate brush is perfect. The grabease double-sided toothbrush is sutiable from 6 months and it comes with a stage 1 silicone finger-brush which is suitable from 4 months. Just using a brush with water is fine until they are 18 months old. From then on, you can use a rice size amount of low-fluoride toothpaste (increasing to pea-sized amount at around 3 years old
Manual or Electric?
This is up to personal preference after the age of 3… Electric brushes can be pretty fun!. Plus, if mummy and daddy use one then they will probably want to have a go at electric too! They can also give a better clean compared to manual brushes… but really, it’s up to you (or let’s be honest, it’s up to your kid!)
Fluoride is a mineral that helps teeth grow strong. It also prevents tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to acids and harmful bacteria.. It is best in small quantities i.e. in the water we drink, foods, and low-fluoride toothpaste. Most tap water in Australia has very low amounts of added fluoride (your local authority will be able to tell you the levels). If children take in too much fluoride, it can cause fluorosis, which is a build-up of fluoride, resulting in white marks on the teeth. Best to keep the levels down until they are old enough to rinse and spit.
For under 18 months toothpaste is not actually needed, unless a dentist advises otherwise. From 18 months, a low fluoride toothpaste is recommended. You can also find fluoride free toothpastes if you are concerned with the levels. These are also available in fruity flavours if your little one isn’t a fan of the minty options!
Who should be doing the brushing?
Most likely they will want to ‘help’ i.e. do it themselves!! You can give them a toothbrush to hold while you brush their teeth. They can likely have a go themselves but always be sure to ‘check’ for them 😉 When they are around 8 years old you can probably trust they will do a good enough job on their own, but below that age you will want to supervise and ensure they are not swallowing toothpaste and doing a thorough job.
How do I fit it into our busy routines?
Kids love a routine, they know what’s coming next and it helps them feel safe and secure. As much as it may feel like a chore (and it’s not always easy, cleaning little teeth!), stick to the plan and be sure to get it done each morning and night. That way, there will be much less wiggle room (quite literally!)
When do they need to see the dentist?
It’s a good habit to get into when they are young, so it becomes part of their normal routine, and not something they dread! Take them along to the dentist when they are around 1, or 6 months after their first tooth appears. From them on, regular check ups will help keep their teeth in healthy condition and the dentist can offer advice with any issues they may be having.
How can I make it fun?
Depending on what your kid likes, there are a few ways to get the job done:
- For the young ones, a toothbrush for them to hold is a must have
- Also them seeing themselves in the mirror can be a good distraction
- You can set a timer so they know how long you will be brushing for (also a good visual distraction). This can be a traditional egg timer or simply from an app on your phone.
- A song is always a good way to get the brushing happening and also some distraction too. Have a selection they can pick from, sing, or play it and they know that the teeth brushing happens for the duration of the song
- Pretending to ‘roar’ like a dinosaur, toot like a train, or get them to say their alphabet… anything they like that will get them making the right shapes to get in all the nooks and crannies!
- You can always bring up a you tube video or short clip of a favourite show, song, or even kids brushing their teeth as a bit of entertainment
What about foods?
As we know, sugary foods can cause tooth decay and erode enamel and cause cavities. The main culprits are juices, lollies, dried fruit, etc. These foods are best avoided in babies and toddlers under 2 years of age. If you decide to serve these types of food before 2, it's best to give bubs a big drink of water to rinse the sugar from their teeth. This helps the sugar not sit on the teeth for too long.
What about bedtime bottles?
As comforting as a bedtime bottle is, these liquids then just feed on bacteria in the mouth and cause tooth decay. This can lead to a condition called ‘bottle mouth’ where the front teeth are discoloured, pitted and cavities may develop. This is true for milk, formula or juice, and even sweetened medicines. So best avoided as soon as you can break the habit.
So there you have it, our toothcare lowdown! I hope this helps you and your littles on your teething journey.
To check out the grabease toothbrush range, Click Here.
Caroline is a Perth mum to two premmie babes now 1 and 4 years old. With tricky starts to life for both (and to motherhood!), Caroline has researched, tried and tested many natural, organic products to find those that are good for her babes and the environment too. Her biz, Avidiva, showcases her passion for stylish, but natural goodies and gifts.
There has always been a lot of hype and speculation around introducing allergenic foods to babies such as eggs and peanuts. Recently, the guidelines have changed significantly and understandably there is a lot of confusion amongst parents as to when is the right time, and how to do it.
I often get asked by parents what is best, and so I am delighted to have the chance to write a guest blog all about this topic for Grabease!
By Caroline Partridge
What did we use to do?
Until recently, parents were told to delay introducing their children to foods such as egg and peanuts. Some people even suggested not introducing nuts until after the age of 5. There were concerns around choking, and beliefs that waiting until the child was older would mean that they were less likely to develop an allergy.
So what changed?
Basically, new evidence came to light. A lot of time and money was put into studying why there was suddenly such a rise in the incidence of childhood allergy. In Australia, 1 in 10 kids under the age of 1 have a food allergy. That number is shocking.
In working to discover why the rate of allergies had risen so fast, questions were asked and researched about what had changed. As well as about the guidelines suggesting waiting to introduce allergenic foods.
The new studies show a decreased likelihood of allergy in children who tried egg and peanuts under the age of 1. Once this evidence was reported, further research was undertaken, and subsequently, the infant feeding guidelines were updated by ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy)
The new guidelines?
The guidelines now suggest giving foods such as egg, tree nuts and peanuts to children between 6 and 10 months of age. Whole nuts pose a risk of choking and so should not be given. Nut butters are a great alternative and remove this choking risk. Egg should be well cooked, not raw.
My favourite first foods to give to baby are meat and eggs. After 6 months of age, infants, particularly those that are still exclusively breastfed can become deficient in iron and zinc. These foods are great sources of these minerals. They can be pureed, or served in suitable sized chunks for baby-led weaning also.
A few tips!
Earlier in the day for trying new foods means less chance of a sleepless night
Just try one new food at a time, then if something happens you will know where to start
Give each new food at least 3 days before moving on to the next, a reaction may not happen on the first 1 or 2 tries
Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of allergic reactions, allergy.org.au is an amazing resource
Caroline Partridge is the Aussie Allergy Mum, a fun-loving mum of two girls, who lives the allergy life daily and wants to help make the journey as easy as possible for others.
At the beginning, as a new Mum I wasn’t sure what weaning would bring. I was recommended a popular weaning book by a friend. So, I went online to order it. Whilst browsing I noticed a book called “Baby-Led Weaning”. ‘Interesting!’, I thought. So, I ordered it, out of curiosity.
In the meantime, I’d started on baby cereal and my son seemed ok with it but kept pushing the spoon out with his tongue which seemed counter-intuitive to me. I kept at it, thinking he just had to get used to it. Then my books arrived or so I thought. Actually only one arrived. The baby-led weaning book was delivered. I never did receive the original one I wanted….maybe it was fate?
As I read, it all made sense, now I understood why he kept pushing the spoon out. I was also sold on the practicality of the approach…no puree´s, EVER! So, I sold my Babychef and from that day on I was determined to try a baby-led approach and we never looked back!
WHAT IS BABY-LED WEANING (BLW)?
Baby-Led weaning is the introduction of solids ‘by encouraging a baby’s confidence and independence by following her cues.’* At first she will sit with you at mealtimes, either on your lap or your partner’s lap, she will watch the way you eat and start to mimic this behaviour by reaching for your plate and then gradually your food. This is a sign of readiness for baby, also look for when she starts putting food in her mouth. Initially she won’t swallow much. Don’t get too concerned if she’s not ingesting a whole lot. As long as she is getting all her milk feeds, she is getting all her nutrients. In the early stages of BLW its more about developing baby’s chewing, dexterity and hand-eye coordination as well as further down the line helping with speech development.
As her hand-eye coordination develops, so too does her fine motor skills, which means introducing utensils. At first, load her spoon for her and leave it on the table or tray. You can also hand it to her but don’t spoon feed her as this will go over her gag reflex and increase the choking hazard. It will also hinder her natural chewing mechanism.
The reaching for food and bringing it to her mouth, are the first signs of readiness. Also make sure Bubs is sitting by herself and she has also reached her 6 month milestone. Once Bub has these four signs, then she is ready! Offer foods in french fry sized portions for easy handling from plate to mouth. It gets messy, I promise you, but it is hilarious to watch! There is nothing my son wouldn’t try. He even ate a wedge of lemon once and loved it!
What about Choking I hear you ask?
What I find most fascinating about BLW is the unlikelihood of choking. Did you know a baby’s gag reflex is a lot further down the tongue than an adults? This means that the food has no way of getting too close to the back of the throat because the gag reflex will kick in and bubs will push the food back to the front of the mouth or at worst, vomit, which let’s face it, babies do all the time! My son is now 4 and he never once choked or vomited whilst he was weaning because he was in total control. To read about the difference between Gagging and Choking, click here.
I love everything about BLW and am enjoying the start of my daughter’s weaning adventures. So, watch this space as there will be a lot more posts to come on this topic.
Let the Bolognese fly!
*Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett
Orders placed between June 18th and June 24th will be dispatched on June 26th. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Dismiss