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Hello parents! In this post I'll be sharing our general bedtime routine with our 3.5 year old, Chase!
After a full day of play and activities, we wind down around 5:30 with a warm bath. We start with bath time because it’s his least favorite activity out of his bedtime routine and it can be near impossible to get him in the tub once he starts to get tired and cranky. Even when he’s not cranky, he is still never thrilled to start bath time, but strangely enough, once he's in the tub playing with his bath toys he usually doesn't want to get out! While he’s in the tub, I’ll often brush his teeth for an optional midday brushing. While children are still young, brushing teeth in the bathtub is convenient as brushing at the sink almost always ends up in a mess of toothpaste everywhere and wet PJs.
Once he's out of the bath, we let him play a little bit to get the rest of his wiggles out and work up an appetite. I'll even turn on dance music and encourage him to jump around. Around 6:30 we start cleaning up and putting away his the toys. I find that playing the clean up song for kids on repeat in the background helps them to focus on the task of cleaning up.
After clean up time, is usually dinner time. It may be counterintuitive to eat dinner after a clean bath, but Chase is old enough now to be a neat eater and he is always hungry again right before bed. This also coincides with when my husband usually gets home from work, so we can eat as a family. Getting him extra stuffed makes it easier to put him down for bedtime earlier and helps him sleep better.
When he tells us he is full, we go to brush his teeth straight away before the food coma kicks in. When I have to choose, I'd rather spend my energy on brushing his teeth over taking a bath. It's something I never ever want to skip - if he falls asleep, I’ll even dry brush his teeth in bed. Since brushing our children’s teeth is challenging for most of us parents, I recommend the Disney Magic Timer App! I think an app is a better alternative to YouTube videos since it’s not tempting for your kids to click on a new video, and the app is personalized along with a reward system. If you prefer to try methods without using screens, I've listed below some tricks that have worked for us! Regardless of your method, reward them with positive reinforcement after a good brush and gargle with, "You did a GREAT job! Every day you will get better and stronger! Your smile looks great and your teeth are so shiny!" *high five* To maintain their healthy teeth and body, try to avoid sugary foods.
Finally, we let him get one last quiet activity, such as building legos, out of his system. After a last trip to the potty, we hop into bed, dim the lights and let Chase pick a bedtime book or two. Then we turn off the lights and turn on bedtime lullabies to sing together. Lastly, we switch the music to soothing ocean sounds and that’s his cue to close his eyes and sleep!
Here are some suggestions and my personal tips that have worked for me to get Chase to brush his teeth:
First of all, try your best to MAKE IT FUN, and not give them negative associations. In general, make parenting fun - you will have a higher success rate of them cooperating with you!
Don't worry, it's not too late to get creative!
Before we get silly, explain to them why we brush our teeth. I make Chase open his mouth in front of a mirror, or take a close up photo to show him the food in his teeth. You can teach your little ones about the "bugs" (bacteria) that rot their beautiful little teeth, and how to sweep them all out! I also showed him a video of a kid with a cavity at the dentist getting their tooth pulled (she sat through it very nicely without a tantrum) to explain to him that this is a real deal.
- To begin, pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste together to make it exciting. You can choose their favorite characters. Don't forget to see if they prefer an electric toothbrush as many kids do.
- Teach or "show" a toy how to brush your teeth. In return, you can teach your child to be proud of knowing how to brush their teeth well.
- Try brushing each other's teeth. They will be so distracted having fun brushing your teeth, they won't even notice you brushing theirs. When you ask them to open up and say, "Ahhh", they will automatically keep their mouth open!
- Similarly, you can take turns. "I brush your teeth, you brush mine!"
- Start by asking, "do you brush your... nose?!" (or cheeks, forehead, etc.) and they will respond with a big "NoOOo". Have them show you that brushing is for teeth!
- You can entertain them during the duration of the brush with a special song, a story, or even ridiculous jibberish sounds. This will take their mind off the brushing and concentrate on you.
- We count on each side in every language we can count to ten in. For example, English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Japanese. If he seems up for brushing longer, I'll either repeat or even count in jibberish and he has a blast. I probably use this technique the most. I like this method because it makes them get used to a long and thorough brush.
- Encourage them during their brushing with the progress they are making. "I see 10 out of 20 shiny teeth!". They will get determined to get all 20 teeth shiny.
- Start with a little friendly competition to make it exciting. Have a race to see who can get started and finishing brushing every tooth!
- Challenge them to prove you wrong. "I don't know if you know how to brush your teeth. Are you surrrrre you know how to?", or "Hey Big kid! Can you show me that you know how to brush your teeth?"
- "I'm going to Tickle your teeth!" Give them the brush after to try.
You can follow up with, "now that you brushed your teeth, we can (have story time)!"
That's our routine! Please share how you do yours and any tips from your family are welcome!
This post was sponsored by Crest & Oral B, and we're proud to support their new Star Wars line because we are big fans! We have Star Wars characters all over the home. In fact, Chase is already a fan of BB-8 so he was stoked that his toothpaste and toothbrush have the matching BB-8 character on it. It's exciting as parents to watch Chase grow up and become so independent!