Young ones have an uncanny ability to remember every granular detail of the stuff you’d rather them forget (all the long-suffering cat’s hiding places; that time you complained about Granny), and forget all those things to which you’ve dedicated endless hours of dialogue—but the latter has nothing to do with cognitive capacity, of course.
There’s more than enough burden of responsibility placed upon mothers for their children’s wellbeing–way before birth, even; now scientists are balancing the scales with some fascinating findings: kids inherit far more genetic mutations from their fathers than from their mothers. But it’s not all as bad as it sounds.
Responsibilities, for the most part, suck. But get done they must, no matter how soul-destroyingly banal. Like taking out the garbage. Or teaching your kid to brush his teeth. When it comes to achieving the latter, coercion is obviously not the ideal; but neither are cavities, dental bills, and halitosis. So how do you impart the importance of dental hygiene and encourage enthusiasm for the most mundane of tasks without making every morning and night a tear-stained, spit-flinging palaver?
“Don’t make it an activity that you do to them. It needs to be something that they do for themselves,” emphasises Dr. Joseph Castellano, president-elect of the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry.
Of course, brushing your baby’s teeth is a necessity–not only because they’re clearly incapable of coordinating neck control, never mind a toothbrush, but also because brushing establishes a routine and familiarises your little one with the exercise.
With older kids, however, it’s essential to have them hone the actual skill of brushing themselves (they’ll have to do this gig solo for a looong time).
You can help them along with wider handled brushes for an easier grip, but from that point on, it’s in their hands (literally).
Also–“Allowing them to choose their toothbrush — whatever colour or character it is on it — or perhaps even a toothpaste, it’s encouraging to them: ‘I’m being independent. I’m doing things on my own,’” says Castellano.
Your next step is to demonstrate immeasurable patience and empathy. You may not feel those things–especially when it’s ten past bedtime and your child is still pretending to brush their eyeballs (or butt)–but you just need to show patience and empathy, because, developmentally, teethbrushing is no mean feat for a little one–proper technique, not swallowing, keeping the brush moving…you get the complicated picture.
Castellano suggests giving your child a small stuffed animal or doll to practice the motions. But they always learn best from their big pals. Says Castellano, “You can do the ‘tell show do’: Look, we’re gonna brush our teeth. This is how I brush my teeth. You copy me. Keep it light, keep it fun.”
As to the finer technical stuff, keep the routine to morning and night, two minutes at a time. And keep it lighthearted and fun; kids take forever to get teethbrushing down, so for the next couple years, you’ll be coaching every day. Might as well paste a pearly white smile on your face.
Weaning is an exciting milestone–but when your baby first gags, you’ll probably be too petrified to venture any further than watered down purées. But gagging is not choking; here’s how to tell the crucial difference.
The umbilical cord is your baby’s physical connection to you in-utero, and even though the cord is cut post birth, the little remaining stump still requires special care–here’s three things you should know.