We brush our teeth at least twice a day every day of our lives and barely give it a second thought -- until we become parents. Nobody told me about the toothbrushing fights. Nobody! It's like a giant conspiracy of experienced parents who know they need to keep quiet or we'd all stop having babies altogether. It starts out innocently enough and then it gets real ugly, real fast.
After months and months of drooling -- seriously, where did all that saliva even come from? is your baby a camel? -- your sweet little cherub cuts her first tooth. You rush out and by an ultra-soft little tooth brush and gentle polish that one little nub with a bit of tap water every night.
Baby's got a cute little grin now and you've settled into a solid bedtime routine replete with little chug-a-chug-a choo choo sound effects and fun songs that get your little guy to open wide. You've got this down now. You're a tooth brushing pro. It's fun!
This is hell. All your crazed toddler wants to do with a tooth brush is wrench it out of your hands and chew on it. Molars are coming through around now, making her gums super sensitive. Her sense of self and a desire for control are also starting to develop, making her super annoying. You'll wind up sitting on the toilet, trying to pin her arms down while you hold her across your lap and force a toothbrush between her clenched teeth. That'll be a good day.
Still with fighting! Will this phase ever end? He's too big and strong to pull an effective wrestling maneuver on now, but at least he seems to be over the chewing. You give in and let him "brush" his own teeth and then somehow sweet talk/plead your way into giving his chompers a quick thirty second once over at the very end.
Finally! She's more than happy to open wide and let you do a proper job on those teeth. She's rinsing and spitting like a boss. (Okay, but not all over the faucet, please. Ew.) It's hard to imagine that brushing her teeth was ever a struggle. You hope this lasts forever.
This is lasting forever. The dentist suggested he should be able to start learning how to brush on his own now, but you're pretty sure you found three quarters of a gummy worm and a chicken drumstick in there after his last solo attempt. You have visions of him saying, "Ahh," on his wedding day so you can go in and do a proper job.
I'm not going to lie. I still go in and do a once over on my eight year old every couple weeks. He's probably fine. He even uses those single-serving floss sticks all by himself. But I just can't TRUST him to do as good a job as I would. And, well, of course he doesn't. Have you ever seen a child try to wipe up a spill or erase a chalk board? They're just so slow and gentle. They forget where they've already wiped and leave huge dirty spots. They take forever. It's important that they learn these skills but you just have to resign yourself to a house full of half-assed chores.
So let me tell you how awesome it's been using the Philips Sonicare For Kids toothbrush to help my five and a half year old become a more independent brusher. She's a little perfectionist and is forever wondering if she's done a good enough job. And, to be honest, the way she used to brush -- wildly dashing here and there across her mouth -- I can't blame her. I'm still very closely supervising, but now she knows exactly when she's done all by herself.
The best Sonicare feature is a little tone that lets her know when to move onto a different quadrant of teeth. There's the inside top, outside top, inside bottom and outside bottom. Another tone will sound when her time is up and the brush will turn off, but little does she know, it's programmed to last a bit longer every time she uses it until she gets used to brushing for a full two minutes. The brush also comes with two speed settings so it's nice and gentle on my little girl's baby teeth and she genuinely loves using it.
Then again, we had her with her choice of eight fun stickers to go on the toothbrush faceplate.
This article was sponsored by Philips Sonicare For Kids as part of a Parent-Tested, Parent-Approved program.
Rebecca Cuneo Keenan is a Toronto-based freelance writer and mom blogger. You can follow her at Playgroundconfidential.com.