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Getting kids to stand still for two minutes for anything can be a challenge. Ask your little whippersnapper to stand still to floss? Well, watch out! Suddenly they’re wrigglier than a kitten with a new squeaky toy.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, your squirmy progeny could one day even look forward to flossing. It’s all about turning a task that’s “good for them” into a fun activity. Doubt us? Read on to find out how to transform your floss-resistant offspring into a floss boss for life.
As soon as two teeth are touching, it’s time to do more than just brushing. At around 2 to 2 ½, your toddler’s last two molars will likely cozy up to each other, creating a tight spot that her toothbrush can’t reach. That’s where floss comes in. A soft, textured floss can squeeze between the tightest spaces and scrub away any leftover bits of food and cavity-causing bacteria.
Some tots’ teeth fit together tighter sooner, so mind those closing gaps. Parents magazine suggests this simple test: “If you can’t see a space or see the gums between a pair of teeth, slide a piece of floss between them. If it sticks a little you know the teeth are touching and it’s time to floss.”
Flossing your babes’ little Tic Tac look-alikes from the very beginning will protect their smile and lay the groundwork for a lifelong floss habit. As they get older, they’ll already be accustomed to caring for their teeth, so they’ll be less resistant to doing it on their own.
Since floss battles small and even microscopic baddies, it can sometimes be hard for adults to grasp its importance, let alone kiddos. Create a big fake mouth and sticky plaque to magnify the situation.
1 sheet of construction paper or poster board
1 empty egg carton or a single row of Duplo bricks or Mega Bloks
Optional: white paint
1. Draw a wide open mouth (think opera singer hitting the high note) on a large piece of construction paper.
2. Cut eight or so dimples out of an egg carton. (You or your tyke can paint them white to look more like teeth.)
3. Turn the dimples upside down and glue half of them along the top of the mouth and half along the bottom. Now you have a top and bottom row of teeth.
4. Smoosh baby carrot-sized strips of play dough between each of the teeth to represent dastardly plaque.
5. Show your kiddo how to use the floss to scrape the play dough plaque off one tooth and then let them tackle the rest.
Alternative: Skip the construction paper mouth and use a long single row of Duplo bricks or Mega Bloks to represent a row of teeth.
Spur your wee ones to floss with a conveniently located visual reminder. Tape a floss chart to the bathroom mirror or wall and mark each day they floss with a fun stamp or sticker.
You can draw a chart yourself or your dentist might have copies of a chart you can use. You can also find printable brushing and flossing charts online. We’re particularly fond of this 21-day tracker. 😊 (Psst — mom and dad, our 21-Day Floss Challenge maybe just what you need to solidify your own floss habit.)
Nothing lights the floss fire like a reward system. Every time they floss, shower your tots with praise and give them a little, non-candy treat, like an extra story at bedtime or — you guessed it — another sticker. (Anything more elaborate may be hard to sustain over the coming months or years of rewards.)
Boost their motivation even further by having the Floss Fairy deliver a larger present, like a book or small toy, after they’ve flossed for a certain number of days in a row. Knowing that there’s a prize at the floss finish line will get them pumped about keeping their petite pearly whites bright.
Just as workout buddies give you that extra push to get to the gym, a floss buddy can make showing up at the bathroom sink more fun. Until your kids are around 6 to 8 years old, you’ll need to floss your nippers’ gnashers for them. Their little fingers don’t have the dexterity yet to reliably and gently clean all their teeth.
Even after they’ve started flossing solo, fledgling flossers might enjoy the routine more if you floss your own teeth with them. The time together gives you a chance to demonstrate proper flossing techniques and peep their chompers to make sure they’re following your lead. Bonus: a house full of people with healthy teeth and gums!
Host a floss party! Pick out a two- to three-minute song (or create a flossy playlist of several snappy tunes) for you and your youngin’ to wiggle to while you shimmy your floss up and down. Or you can bust out the floss dance to celebrate the end of a successful floss sesh.YouTube has loads of chirpy toothbrushing and flossing songs for kids, but they’ll likely grate on your nerves. Below are 20 songs that come in under the three-minute mark that won’t make you lose your mind. (You may want to give the lyrics a parent-check first.)
A gentle rock-steady beat is probably the ideal tempo for scrubbing away plaque. You don’t want your kids hurting their gums from furiously flossing back and forth to a manic rhythm. Email us or tag us on social media (@getcocofloss) with your floss rock suggestions!
Frame flossing as an epic showdown between good and evil. Weave a tale of a mounting bacterial army hiding out between their teeth and gums that only they can defeat. Ceremoniously hand them their weapon, their mighty floss, and cheer them on as they slay bacteria and floss their way to victory. (Of course, you can tone down or amp up the drama to suit your child’s temperament.)
Few things get kids more excited than getting to be the decider. Let your tiny tastemaker flex some executive decision-making power in the oral care aisle. These days, children’s toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss all come in a range of fun flavors and styles. May we recommend our Cocofloss 4-Piece Set? With this variety pack, your future CEO can look forward to choosing between Delicious Mint, Fresh Coconuts, Cara Cara Orange, and Pure Strawberries every night. Yum!