Brush, Floss, Swish – Birth to 6 Months
Supplies and Preparation
- Baby washcloth or gauze
- Cleaning Baby’s Mouth
Starting the Conversation
- Tell me some of the things you do to keep your baby happy and healthy.
- What types of things do you do to take care of your baby’s mouth?
- Besides washing his face, it is also important to clean his mouth.
There are a few reasons to start now:
- By starting now, your baby will learn that taking care of his mouth is a part of his daily routine.
- He will get used to you cleaning his mouth, so that when his teeth come in, it may be easier to introduce toothbrushing.
Parent and Child Activities
1 Demonstrate how to clean baby’s mouth.
- Ask the parent to dampen the baby washcloth with water.
- Make a circle with your fingers and thumb to make it look like a little like a toothless mouth; use the “mouth” to show the parent how to clean baby’s mouth.
- Wrap the damp washcloth over your finger.
- Gently wipe the cloth around the “mouth”—both the top and bottom—and mention that it is important to clean a baby’s tongue, too.
2 Practice cleaning baby’s mouth.
- If baby is awake and ready, invite the parent to practice cleaning the baby’s mouth and tongue.
- Model ways to stabilize the baby’s head.
- Ask the parent if she and baby would be more comfortable on the couch or on the floor.
- Have the parent smile and talk to baby then touch baby’s mouth with the cloth so he is not startled when she puts the cloth inside his mouth.
- With the damp baby washcloth, coach the parent to gently wipe around baby’s top and bottom gums, and his tongue. Doing this every day will help the parent notice changes in baby’s mouth, like when the first tooth comes in.
- Reassure the parent that it’s normal if baby initially cries or is resistant.
- End by giving baby a big smile and perhaps by singing a song. It will get easier as mom and baby practice.
- Tell the parent to try to do this after every feeding or at least twice a day.
- Make up silly songs to engage baby while the parent is cleaning baby’s mouth. Use a common song and change the words.
- Example: Open, open, open your mouth. Mommy’s looking in. (To the tune “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)
- When you think about how often you might be able to clean your baby’s mouth, what seems realistic?
- What are you still wondering about? What questions do you have?