#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: When Should A Mother Start Brushing Her Baby’s Teeth?

Q: At what age should a mother start brushing for her child?

A: Hey! Thanks for writing in. I’ve answered your question and thrown in a bonus for when to start potty training too! That’s to apologise for not posting yesterday. The day just vanished before I knew it! :O

Taking care of your baby’s mouth/teeth starts from birth. If you don’t start this early enough, you may end up with a situation known as baby bottle tooth decay. This condition occurs when babies’ teeth are exposed to prolonged contact with sugary liquids or substances. In children, this can also be caused by allowing children to go to sleep while feeding at the breast, on a bottle or giving them pacifiers that have been coated with honey or other sugary substances. During sleep, saliva production reduces; thus, these sugary substances, which lead to the production of acids, stay on the teeth for prolonged periods leading to erosion of the enamel and subsequent tooth decay.

•    Mothers are advised to practice exclusive breastfeeding but if for any reason bottles have to be used for any period, this should be carefully monitored. Ensure that baby never falls asleep with a bottle containing milk (be it expressed breast milk or formula), fruit juice (fresh or packaged) or any other sweetened fluids. This also goes for children who are breast-fed. Please don’t let them fall asleep on the breast. This ensures that the baby’s teeth is not in contact with sugary fluids for prolonged periods of time. This prevents tooth decay.

•    Even before your baby’s teeth actually erupt, clean baby’s mouth and gums at least once a day, gently massaging the gingivial tissues and gum. This can be done using a piece of moistened cotton gauze wrapped around a finger. This helps to clean baby’s mouth, establish the development of healthy teeth and aid teething.

•    As soon as the first tooth erupts, plaque removal should commence. Ensure that babies’ teeth are brushed at least twice a day. Before the child can spit out, please use a non-fluoride containing toothpaste. We don’t want the child swallowing fluoride and coming down with some ailments and other disease conditions including the development of whitish patches on teeth. However, as soon as the child can spit, please introduce fluorinated toothpaste.

•    Wean the baby from the bottle as soon as possible and use a cup for liquids. During the weaning period, dilute the bottle feeds as much as possible to the point where only water is taken with the bottle.

•    If your baby uses a pacifier, please use for only short periods of time and be sure not to coat with honey or any other sugary substance to ensure that his teeth is not in prolonged contact with substances that will lead to tooth decay.

For more on this, please click on the links below:


When to start potty training? Well, usually between the ages of 18 and 30 months, a child shows some signs that he/she is ready for the next big step…potty training. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
• They can remove clothing, talk, climb etc
• They are usually aware of having soiled their diapers
• They have bowel movements at about the same everyday
• They no longer have bowel movements (poop) at night
• The gap between wet diapers is about 2 hours.
• They know when they are urinating
• They can tell you when they need to urinate

This process would usually take an average of 3 months. However, your child needs to feel ready, otherwise it will be a battle of wills…and trust me, you won’t win! Remember the one who has to clean up all the ‘accidents’? 😀 So, look out for the signs of readiness and remember that if a child is emotionally destabilized, he/she may relapse to pre-potty training ways. Patience is key. If you decide your baby is not ready yet and suspend temporarily, be sure to re-introduce as you observe the signs noted above.

Have a fabulous weekend, people 😀

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