Mouth Care for your Infant-Toddler (Birth to 3 years)
Your baby’s teeth will be needed for: Eating/chewing, smiling/appearance, talking/speech and health adult teeth.

Birth to 6 months – Healthy habits start early. Good dental health starts even before you child has teeth.

  • Wipe your baby’s gums every day with a wet cloth to keep their mouth clean and to help with teething.
  • Do not put anything sweet on pacifiers or soothers
  • If you are feeing by bottle, hold your baby instead of putting your baby to bed with the bottle

6 to 12 months – Celebrate the first tooth and those that come after! This is an important event and so is the arrival of all other new teeth.

  • When your baby’s teeth start to appear, begin to brush each morning and night.
  • Use a small, soft toothbrush with a smear of a children’s fluoride toothpaste.
  • Teach your child to drink from a cup
  • Offer a variety of foods with different textures (mashed and finger foods) to help the mouth develop normally.


  • Some babies have no problem.
  • Some babies start to get teeth as early as 3 months old.
  • You may notice your baby drools more. It helps to rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger or offer then a cool teething ring.
  • Cookies, crackers and biscuits are not a good choice for teething because they can cause tooth decay.
  • Teething will continue until all 20 baby teeth come in.

12 to 18 months – Step by step your child learns new skills

  • It is recommended that children have their “First Dental Visit” around their first birthday.
  • Continue to brush your child’s teeth twice each day with a smear of a children’s fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t give up! Brushing may be difficult at this age.
  • Try to have a regular routine (brush morning and night)
  • Brushing can be done anywhere – try and make it fun.
  • Make sure you can see into your child’s mouth when brushing
  • Baby molars are coming in so be sure to brush the back teeth.
  • Your child could be at risk for early childhood tooth decay if they still use a bottle with anything other than water.

18 months to 3 years – Building healthy habits for life. Children still need your help.

  • Most children have all 20 baby teeth by the time they are 3 years old.
  • Continue to brush your child’s teeth twice each day with a children’s fluoride toothpaste (slowly increase the amount of toothpaste to about the size of a pea when they have learned to spit it out).
  • Children will want to brush by themselves, however they will not yet have the ability to do a good job. You will still need to continue to brush for your child.
  • Give a variety of healthy snacks from all 4 food groups. Give snacks mid way between meals.
  • By now your child should be visiting the dentist for regular check ups.
  • Set a good example! Brush and floss your own teeth every day and visit your dentist regularly.

Dental health, The early years – Vancouver Coastal Health