When we bought Anthony his first “big boy” toothbrush and tube of toddler toothpaste sometime around his first birthday, he became obsessed with brushing his teeth.
Suddenly, in the middle of the afternoon, Jerry or I would realize that the little boy who had been reading books or playing with his cars in the living room was missing – and we would find him perched on his step stool in front of the bathroom sink, toothbrush in hand, waiting for someone to squeeze toothpaste on it and turn on the water. He would brush three, sometimes four, times a day.
Boy, has that changed.
Now when it’s time to brush his teeth, Anthony runs and hides (although it’s usually in our bedroom, so he’s pretty easy to find). I have to drag him – kicking and screaming – to the bathroom, hold him down and pry open his mouth with my finger as I try to quickly, yet gently, force a toothbrush into his mouth. He becomes a little more cooperative once the brush is in there, somehow resisting the urge to chomp down on it or my fingers, but he still wriggles and whines, “I don’t like it! I don’t like it!” as I attempt to clean his pearly whites.
So, how did this happen?
It all started when I decided to make the change from toddler toothpaste to kids’ toothpaste. As far as I can tell, the only difference between the two is that it’s completely safe to swallow toddler toothpaste – to me, they taste the same and have the same consistency (yes, I did a taste-test after this whole mess began).
But Anthony apparently could detect an extreme difference. Because even though the new tube was emblazoned with a picture of Diego, who is probably his favorite cartoon character in the world, my little man no longer wanted anything to do with brushing his teeth. After a few days of struggling to get him to use the new toothpaste, I broke down and bought another tube of the toddler paste.
But guess what? Now he didn’t like that either.
We currently are on our fourth different flavor, having tried everything from fruit punch to watermelon to bubble gum, and still no luck. (If anyone needs toddler/kid toothpaste, let me know. My bathroom counter is filled with barely used tubes.)
So now what?
We bought a really cute pop-up book called “Brush Your Teeth Please,” which Ant absolutely loves to read, but it hasn’t encouraged him one bit. And the dentist recommended that we bribe him with stickers or a treat (I hope she didn’t mean candy because that would kind of defeat the purpose of brushing his teeth in the first place), but since bribery is working so well with potty training …
I’ve even resorted to scare tactics, telling Anthony that if he doesn’t brush his teeth, they’ll start to fall out. But that doesn’t exactly work when his sister’s getting $5 from the tooth fairy every time she loses a tooth. He’s probably ready to stick his teeth under a pillow.
I think I might try the electric toothbrush route next. But if that doesn’t work, my best bet is probably to hit the gym. Because my squirming toddler will soon be a squirming 3-year-old. And it’s getting harder and harder to hold him down.