How to clean your baby’s teeth when weaning

Weaning and teething often come together – making life a little more challenging! Here’s how to cope with both together

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Your baby at six months

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Your baby’s first teeth usually come in around six months, a common age for many parents to start weaning. While you’re spending lots of time thinking about fruit and vegetables to mash, don’t forget about caring for those first teeth.

This brand new diet of solid food for your baby, means new challenges for those tiny milk teeth and it’s important they’re protected. The good news is that both tasks require similar skills, so you can make the most of the similarities.

Getting your baby to open his mouth

There are a number of encouraging games to persuade a reluctant baby to open his mouth…

  • See who can roar like a lion
  • Sing about the choo choo train needing to go into the tunnel
  • Show your baby how much fun it is to ‘open wide’

These work for both weaning and brushing those teeth. 

Letting your baby do it himself

If he’s old enough, let your baby bring his spoon or his toothbrush to his mouth. Make sure you’re there to aid him, but messy discovery is all part of weaning and keeping his teeth clean.

It can be handy to have two of each to hand – one for your baby to play with and one for you to use – so he gets used to its real purpose.

Watch out for sugar in his new diet

Too much sugar can cause tooth decay. Sugar is particularly a problem, as your baby’s tooth enamel is thinner than adults’ enamel so it’s more vulnerable to decay.

Many foods contain natural sugars – even milk – so you don’t want to add extra sugary foods unnecessarily to your baby’s diet.

If you’re creating your own food at home with pureed and mashed fruit and vegetables, you’ll know exactly what ingredients your baby is eating.

Mashed and softly-baked vegetables, such as carrots and parsnips, will be easy for your baby’s new teeth to handle. Soft fruit and vegetables are also a great way to help your baby learn to grab.

How to clean your weaning baby’s teeth

  • Make sure your baby’s teeth are getting a good clean twice a day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night
  • Check that no food is left between his gums that can lead to a build-up of plaque, which can attack healthy teeth
  • A smear of children’s toothpaste on a small-headed toothbrush with nylon bristles will do the trick
  • Remember to be gentle on swollen gums while other teeth are still coming through. Chomping on soft carrots or banana could help ease the pain. A cloth soaked in cooled boiled water can gently numb the throbbing sensation 

Dentist Tina Tanna’s toothcare tips for weaning babies

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  • Care for milk teeth from day one. Get a twice-a-day cleaning routine going as soon as possible
  • It can be scary to see your baby in pain with teething. Cool teething rings in the fridge (never in the freezer). Or give your baby cold softly-baked foods to chew on for a cooling sensation. Be careful with foods that could cause choking if bits are bitten off; always keep a watchful eye on your child while he’s eating
  • Distract your baby if he’s restless and uncomfortable. Lots of cuddles and games will help comfort him

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