Teaching Your Toddler to Spit Out Toothpaste: Tips and Tricks

Toddler spitting out toothpaste.

Good dental hygiene is a crucial part of a child’s overall health and wellbeing, and it’s never too early to start teaching your toddler good habits for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. One of the most important skills to teach your child is how to spit out toothpaste without swallowing it. This can be challenging for young children, but with the right tips and tricks, you can help your child develop good dental hygiene habits that will last a lifetime.

In this article, we’ll explore the best ways to teach your toddler to spit out toothpaste, including starting early, using the right toothpaste and toothbrush, demonstrating the technique, making it fun, using positive reinforcement, and being patient and consistent. We’ll also address common challenges that may arise when teaching your child to brush their teeth and provide answers to frequently asked questions about toddler dental hygiene.

Start Early

It’s never too early to start fostering good dental hygiene habits in your toddler. In fact, the American Dental Association recommends that parents start brushing their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. This not only helps to establish good habits early on, but it can also prevent early childhood tooth decay.

When your child is still an infant, you can use a wet washcloth or a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently clean their gums and any emerging teeth. As your child gets older and more teeth come in, you can start using a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) to brush their teeth.

It’s important to supervise your child while they brush their teeth until they’re old enough to do it on their own. This helps ensure that they’re brushing effectively and not swallowing toothpaste.

Teaching Toddlers to Brush Their Own Teeth

As your child grows and develops more fine motor skills, you can gradually teach them to brush their own teeth. Experts recommend that parents continue to help their child brush until around age 6 or 7, when they have the dexterity to properly clean their teeth on their own.

To teach your child to brush their own teeth, start by letting them watch you brush your own teeth so they can see the proper technique. Then, let them practice brushing your teeth and their own teeth with your supervision. Encourage them to brush for at least two minutes, focusing on all surfaces of their teeth.

Use The Right Toothpaste and Toothbrush

Choosing the right toothpaste and toothbrush for your toddler is essential to ensure proper dental hygiene and prevent any potential harm.

When selecting toothpaste, it is crucial to opt for non-fluoride options for younger children. Fluoride can be dangerous if consumed in large quantities and may cause teeth discoloration or even dental fluorosis.

Additionally, a soft-bristled toothbrush should be used to avoid damaging the gums and teeth. The head of the toothbrush should be small enough to fit comfortably into a toddler’s mouth. If you’re unsure about the appropriate size of the toothbrush, consult your dentist.

  • Choose toothpaste that is non-fluoride for toddlers
  • Pick a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Select a brush with a small head
  • Use fluoride toothpaste for toddlers
  • Use a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Use a toothbrush that is too large for a toddler’s mouth

By using the right toothpaste and toothbrush, you can help your toddler maintain good oral hygiene and ensure a healthy bright smile!

Demonstrate the Technique

One of the most effective ways to teach toddlers to spit out toothpaste is by demonstrating the technique yourself. Children learn best by example, so it is important to show them exactly how to brush their teeth and spit out the toothpaste.

First, wet the toothbrush and apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Then, demonstrate how to brush in circular motions on both the top and bottom teeth. Show your toddler how to spit out the toothpaste into the sink without swallowing it.

You may need to repeat this process a few times before your toddler gets the hang of it. Encourage them to try it themselves and provide positive reinforcement when they successfully spit out the toothpaste.

If your toddler is having trouble with the technique, consider using a mirror to show them exactly where to spit out the toothpaste. You can also demonstrate the technique using a doll or stuffed animal to make it more engaging for your child.

Make it Fun

Maintaining good dental hygiene habits can be a fun and engaging activity for toddlers with the right approach. Here are some ideas for making tooth brushing a more enjoyable experience:

  • Tooth brushing games: Turning tooth brushing into a game can make it more exciting. Try playing a game of “Simon Says” or “I Spy” while brushing.
  • Singing tooth brushing songs: Singing a fun song while brushing can make the time fly by. Try singing a favorite nursery rhyme or making up a song about brushing teeth.
  • Tooth brushing toys: Incorporating a special tooth brushing toy can make the activity feel like a treat. Try giving your toddler a fun toothbrush or a special stuffed animal to hold while brushing.

Remember, the goal is to create positive associations with dental hygiene. By making it a fun and engaging activity, your toddler will be more likely to enjoy and stick to the routine.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in teaching toddlers to brush their teeth and spit out toothpaste. Praise and rewards can help children establish good dental hygiene habits and make the experience more enjoyable. Here are some tips for using positive reinforcement:

  1. Praise your child: Be sure to give your child plenty of praise and encouragement as he or she learns to brush their teeth and spit out toothpaste. Positive feedback can help build confidence and make the experience more enjoyable.
  2. Use rewards: Offering rewards can be an effective way to motivate children to brush their teeth. Rewards can be as simple as a sticker or as elaborate as a special toy. Choose a reward that your child will find appealing and make sure to follow through on your promise.
  3. Make it a game: Turning tooth brushing into a game can make the experience more fun for children. Set a timer and challenge your child to brush their teeth for a certain amount of time, or come up with a tooth brushing song that you can sing together.
  4. Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to using positive reinforcement to teach good dental hygiene habits. Make sure to praise your child and offer rewards consistently, so that he or she understands that tooth brushing is something that is important and enjoyable.

Example of Reward System:

One effective way to use positive reinforcement is to create a reward system for your child. Here’s an example:

Brushing teeth in the morningOne sticker
Brushing teeth at nightA small toy or treat
Brushing teeth without a fussExtra TV time or a special outing

Remember, the reward system should be tailored to your child’s interests and preferences. The more your child enjoys the rewards, the more motivated he or she will be to maintain good dental hygiene habits.

Be Patient and Consistent

Teaching your toddler to spit out toothpaste and maintain good dental hygiene habits can be a challenging process, but it’s important to remain patient and consistent throughout the journey. It may take time for your child to feel comfortable with brushing their teeth and spitting out toothpaste, so it’s crucial to stay patient and offer gentle encouragement along the way.

Consistency is also key when it comes to dental hygiene routines. It’s important to establish a set routine for brushing teeth and to stick to it on a daily basis. This helps to reinforce good habits and ensures that your child becomes comfortable with the process over time.

To help maintain consistency, consider setting up a designated brushing station in your home that is easily accessible to your child. This can include a comfortable stool or chair, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and any other dental hygiene tools that you typically use.

Remember, every child is different and learns at their own pace. Some may take longer to grasp the concept of spitting out toothpaste, while others may be more resistant to the idea of brushing their teeth altogether. However, with patience and consistency, you can help your child develop good dental hygiene habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Address Challenges

Teaching toddlers to brush their teeth and spit out toothpaste can pose some challenges. Here are some common challenges and tips for dealing with them:

Stubborn Toddlers

Some toddlers may be resistant to tooth brushing despite your best efforts. In such cases, it is important to take a gentle approach and avoid forcing them. Try making tooth brushing a game by getting them to imitate you or letting them choose their toothbrush and toothpaste. You could also try making it a part of their daily routine, so that they get used to it.

Sensory Issues with Tooth Brushing

Some children may have sensory issues that make tooth brushing a difficult experience. If your child is bothered by the texture or taste of toothpaste, try using a different flavor or a non-fluoride toothpaste. It may also help to use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a silicone finger brush. If your child is sensitive to the sensations of tooth brushing in their mouth, try gradually increasing the amount of time you spend brushing their teeth each day until they become comfortable with it.

Difficulty Spitting Out Toothpaste

Spitting out toothpaste can also be a challenge for some toddlers because they may not yet have developed the necessary oral motor skills. Start by teaching them to spit out water after rinsing their mouth and then move on to toothpaste. Show them how to spit into the sink and encourage them to practice spitting while you brush their teeth. You could also make it a fun game by using a mirror and getting them to see how far they can spit.


Teaching toddlers to spit out toothpaste can be challenging, but with consistency and patience, it can become a regular part of their dental hygiene routine. Here are some common questions and answers to help you navigate this process:

What toothpaste should I use for my toddler?

It’s recommended to use non-fluoride toothpaste for younger children, as they are more likely to swallow it. Look for toothpaste specifically formulated for toddlers and make sure to use a small amount (about the size of a grain of rice) on their toothbrush.

How can I get my toddler to brush their teeth without a tantrum?

Make tooth brushing a fun and positive experience by using tooth brushing games, singing tooth brushing songs, and providing tooth brushing toys. Give your child some control by allowing them to choose their toothbrush and toothpaste. Consistency is also key; make tooth brushing a regular part of their daily routine so it becomes a habit.

What should I do if my toddler refuses to brush their teeth?

Try to understand why your toddler is resisting tooth brushing. It could be due to sensory issues, a fear of the toothbrush, or a power struggle. Address the issue accordingly by providing a different toothbrush, creating a calm and soothing environment, or finding a tooth brushing incentive that motivates your child.

At what age should my child begin brushing their own teeth?

Children can begin brushing their own teeth with adult supervision as soon as they are able to hold a toothbrush. However, it’s recommended to continue helping them until they are able to properly brush their teeth on their own (usually around age 6 or 7).

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