You want to set your child up for success, and when it comes to their health, that involves preventative care. Oral hygiene is important for everybody, even babies and toddlers! From when to start using toothpaste for your little one to what kind of toothpaste is best for babies and toddlers, we’ve got the answers right ahead. Because a happy, healthy, pearly-white smile starts as soon as that adorable first tooth erupts.

When to introduce baby toothpaste

That rumor that kids don’t need toothpaste before the age of 2? Totally false, says Mitali Y. Patel, DDS, a board-certified pediatric dentist and program director of the pediatric dentistry residency at Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC. “Using toothpaste is important as soon as there are teeth in the mouth, because it can help prevent tooth decay,” she says. That’s in keeping with the recommendation of both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association (ADA), which encourage brushing with a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste – a smear the size of a grain of rice for kids under 3 and a pea-size amount for those 3 to 6 – as soon as the teeth erupt. Stick to these small amounts of toothpaste to ensure your baby or toddler doesn’t ingest too much of the stuff, since “children may not be able to rinse and spit,” Patel explains. Babies and toddlers also aren’t able to thoroughly brush their own teeth, so you’ll have to do it for them.

How to shop for baby and toddler toothpaste

“Parents should look for a kids’ fluoridated toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance,” says Patel. But if you’ve started browsing baby and toddler toothpaste options, you’ve probably noticed that many products are strongly advertised as “fluoride-free.” While it’s true that fluoride can cause adverse effects like mildly discolored permanent teeth (fluorosis) if it’s swallowed in large amounts, it’s safe in the kids’ doses recommended above. In fact, dentists prefer toddler and baby toothpastes with fluoride because of their anti-cavity properties. Still worried? Patel recommends discussing your options with a dentist. In fact, many kids’ toothpaste labels advise consulting a dentist before use on children under 2 just to be safe.

Beyond looking for a baby toothpaste with fluoride, picking out the best baby or toddler toothpaste is really up to your (and your kid’s) personal preference. For example, some children like strong flavors; others really dislike them. (Word to the wise: They should like it, but not enough that they’ll try to eat it!) But feel free to steer clear of adult toothpastes designed to combat things like discoloration, sensitivity and tartar buildup. “These ingredients that are present in adult toothpaste to address adult dental needs are often not necessary in children’s toothpaste,” says Patel.

Best baby and toddler toothpastes

Shopping for the best baby toothpaste? What about the best toothpaste for toddlers? Really, they’re one and the same. In fact, “As long as it’s fluoridated toothpaste, a child can definitely use the same toothpaste throughout their childhood,” Patel says. Choose from the highly rated, ADA-approved products below – many are conveniently sold in bulk, so go ahead and stock up.

Tom’s of Maine Anticavity Fluoride Children’s Toothpaste

Natural ingredients set this ADA-approved toddler and baby toothpaste apart. The fruity flavors are pleasant but not overpowering, which appeals to even the fussiest of babies and tots. “The toothpaste has a very subtle strawberry flavor and my baby doesn’t seem to mind it. She might actually like it,” shares one Amazon reviewer. Another Amazon customer raves, “This toothpaste makes my kids brush their teeth like 10 times in a row.”

Burt’s Bees Kids Toothpaste

Here’s another option for parents who go by the motto, “the less artificial, the better.” The fluoridated, ADA-accepted toothpaste is flavored naturally. An Amazon reviewer swears it’s made brushing way easier: “I have never seen a toddler look forward to brushing! He loves the taste and is always cooperative to open his mouth while I brush his teeth.”

Tanner’s Tasty Paste Anti-Cavity Fluoride Toothpaste

Vanilla and chocolate flavors? Hear us out. This toddler toothpaste is sugar-free and still maintains oral health with fluoride – just in a more tot-friendly way. It was created by a pediatric dentist and mom, so you know it means business. And the wacky taste could seriously come in clutch for kids who don’t like mint; in fact, Amazon reviewers say it’s ideal for children with sensory disabilities. Of course, you’ll have to be careful to keep it out of reach, as you don’t want your child mistaking it for a snack.

Crest Kids’ Cavity Protection Fluoride Toothpaste

Your go-to adult toothpaste brands carry baby and toddler toothpaste too. This kids’ toothpaste fights cavities with fresh bubblegum flavor (read: a perennial kids’ favorite). And at $6 for a set of three, it’s very affordable. FYI, Crest also sells kids’ toothpaste with fun characters printed on the packaging.

Colgate Fluoride Toothpaste Cavity Protection for Kids

This kids’ toothpaste has a mild flavor that won’t bother your child. “My 3-year-old twins got this in a trial size from their last dentist appointment and have been asking for it ever since. They enjoy the flavor enough that it has made brushing their teeth less miserable,” shares an Amazon reviewer.

Hello Oral Care SLS-Free Fluoride Toothpaste for Kids

This ADA-approved toddler toothpaste is vegan and cruelty-free. It’s also made without sodium lauryl sulfate, which can irritate some users. This Amazon review really says it all: “Yeah baby!! When you find a toothpaste that four toddlers are willing to brush their teeth with, you go big and buy the four pack. This has eliminated so many bedtime tantrums, and, as a result, clumps of my hair left on the bathroom floor after pulling it out due to the dreaded brushing teeth ritual. Thank you, Hello!”

Aquafresh Kids Pump Cavity Protection Fluoride Toothpaste

This ADA-accepted toddler toothpaste with fluoride is perfect for when your kid starts helping you brush (and then eventually brushes by themselves). That’s because it stands up on the counter and has a pump for easy dispensing.

This blog post originally appeared on The Bump.


Mitali Patel Mitali Y. Patel, DDS, is a board-certified pediatric dentist and was program director of the pediatric dentistry residency at Children’s National.

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