It’s important to brush your teeth twice a day to keep your teeth and gums healthy, but how young should you start introducing this habit? Tiny toothbrushes may look cute, but are they really effective? You’re probably not looking forward to struggling with your baby to properly run a brush over all their new teeth, but it’s important to start young. As soon as your baby’s first tooth arrives you should start brushing or wiping their teeth. Not only will this help you and your little one get used to brushing, but it helps keep their newly sprouted pearly whites clean from plaque and bacteria.
We spoke to pediatric dentist Naveen Kwatra and orthodontist Amy Barrer, both at MVP Smiles in Gaithersburg, MD, to help answer some of your concerns when it comes to introducing your newest family member to oral hygiene. You may be overwhelmed by the variety of styles and options when it comes to baby toothbrushes, but as Dr. Kwatra and Dr. Barrer explain, “The most important part of brushing teeth is the mechanical brushing [action]. In general, it’s the physical removal of the plaque and bacteria on the teeth.” So when it comes to picking between finger brushes or 360 brushes, they say it’s really just your personal preference. As long as the teeth are being brushed, you’re doing great!
We chose each baby toothbrush in this roundup based on picks tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute, top-performing brands and expert recommendations. Looking for something with a little more power? Check out some of the best electric toothbrushes for adults and kids. Here are the best baby toothbrushes of 2022, according to dental and parenting experts.
This adorable giraffe toothbrush is just as cute as it is easy on teeth and gums. The self-standing brush keeps the head away from the dirty counter so there are fewer germs to worry about. Kids will appreciate the easy-to-hold handle and soft bristles for their baby teeth. The brand recommends rinsing the brush in warm water before and after each use as a best hygiene practice to maintain cleanliness. It’s a more fun version of an adult toothbrush, and the similar shape and soft bristles will help prepare your little one for their daily oral hygiene routine.
Since the CDC recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, getting a pack of four like this one is a great value option. The wide handles are perfect for tiny hands that are just learning how to hold a toothbrush, and the fun colors will help keep your little one interested. The short neck and small brush head are designed for tiny mouths while the colored bristles indicate exactly how much toothpaste is needed for each use. Plus, the handle of the toothbrush does double duty by functioning as a teething ring!
This banana toothbrush is a fan favorite for a reason. Aside from its super cute design, its ergonomic handle and silicone brush head are ideal for baby hands and teething mouths. It combines the best aspects of dental care with a cute toy and can even be placed in the freezer for maximum soothing during teething. According to the brand, the entire brush is made from a single piece of silicone, making it pliable and bendy — perfect for little ones’ chewing or brushing needs. Plus, it comes in a variety of colors and shapes, like an ear of corn or a dragon.
Finger brushes like this one are great for new parents looking to help establish a healthy oral care routine. Not only is it easy to navigate around your baby’s mouth and ensure you’re reaching all the teeth, but its soft silicone bristles aren’t too rough on small baby gums. The triple-angled brush head helps get all sides of those tiny teeth quickly and efficiently, and the thick, double-sided design means that teething babies won’t be able to hurt you when they bite down. For maximum hygiene, use the included storage stand to keep the brush clean between uses.
This double-sided toothbrush helps tackle both top and bottom rows of teeth at the same time. This brush won a Good Housekeeping Parenting Award in 2020 for its easy-to-hold handle and soft bristles that make it safe and simple for kids to learn how to brush on their own. We love that the safety barrier means little ones won’t readily be able to push the brush too far back, but they’ll still have no trouble reaching their molars. Plus, its shape is perfect for small hands to use on their own.
For little ones seeking sensory stimuli, an electric toothbrush like the BabySonic is a great option. With gentle vibrations, soft bristles and a comfortable handle, this brush brings all the benefits of electric brushing to your littlest family members. The suction base helps keep the head off the counter and the LED 30-second timer is perfect for teaching toddlers independence when they handle the brush on their own with supervision. Once they get older, simply replace the brush-head with the toddler-designed version. Keep in mind that both Dr. Kwatra and Dr. Barrer say generally children under 8 or 9 years old don’t need an electric toothbrush, so speak with your pediatrician or dentist to determine if it’s the best option for your little one.
This set grows with your little one from infancy to childhood. It includes four different brushes starting with the finger brush that’s great for a teething baby’s first brushing experience. Next comes the extra-soft silicone brush and massager followed by the slightly more robust brush designed for toddlers around 1 year old. Finally comes the nylon bristled brush perfect for older kids. Available in a variety of fun colors, kids can get used to taking care of their teeth on their own and with their parents’ help. The soft materials are made for sensitive gums and teething littlies.
Featuring triple-angled bristles, these brushes aim to reach all the nooks and crannies of your baby’s teeth. Included a brush for babies and one for toddlers, this set grows with your child. The first brush has silicone bristles, a removable safety stopper to keep your baby from gagging and an easy-to-grip handle for little fingers. Switch to the toddler brush at around 18 months with its suction cup bottom that keeps the head away from the counter.
For all-around cleaning, this 360 brush has bristles on all sides of the head to clean the front, back and sides of each tooth as easily as possible. The soft bristles keep teeth and gums clean without irritation and the smiley face safety shield ensures that baby doesn’t push their toothbrush too far back in their mouth. Use the suction base to store the brush upright. Plus, we’ve had great experiences with the brand’s other products like their manual breast pump.
Our team at the Good Housekeeping Institute reviews baby and toddler gear of all kinds. We’ve tested almost all of the picks on this list and have consumer feedback for several as well. Our product experts sifted through countless five-star reviews to find the best brushes, and spoke with real parents to figure out which are also kid approved.
We’ve used our experience and expertise in kid and adult toothbrushes as well as baby products to determine what materials would be ideal ergonomically and what is best suited for your little ones. We consider safety, texture, additional features, materials, ease of use and more when choosing our favorite picks. These picks are made up of our expert’s favorites and popular brands with rave reviews from real Good Housekeeping consumer reviewers.
Do I need a baby toothbrush?
Yes. Once your little one’s teeth start popping up, you’ll want to give them a brush twice a day. “It is important for parents to start cleaning their kids’ teeth as soon as they erupt into the mouth. Even a washcloth will do!” say Dr. Kwatra and Dr. Barrer in a joint statement. “It is very important to brush and/or wipe them clean!” Not only does this help establish a good oral hygiene routine and get your baby used to the habit and feeling of brushing, but the bristles will remove sugars from their milk, formula or baby food that would otherwise cling to their gums.
As for when it’s time to start seeing a professional, Dr. Kwatra and Dr. Barrer recommend visiting a dentist for your little one by age 1. “This visit is more important for the parent to learn about healthy habits such as diet and oral hygiene.”
In order to pick out the perfect toothbrush for you and your little one, consider the following factors:
✔️ Materials: Silicone brushes are great for doubling as teethers. Brushes with nylon/synthetic fiber bristles are more similar to adult brushes they’ll use later in their childhood. Either way, Dr. Kwatra and Dr. Barrer suggest that you stick to a brush with softer bristles since harder bristles have been shown to “wear down the enamel of the teeth.”
✔️ Type: Brushes for little ones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from 360 brushes and ones with silicone bristles to electric brushes and finger brushes. You might need to try a few different types before you find one that is most comfortable for you and your baby. While all the types we included are equally effective, some may be more comfortable for your little one than others.
✔️ Size: Both the brush head size and grip size are important to consider. Smaller heads are better for little baby mouths according to Dr. Kwatra and Dr. Barrer, and fatter handles are easier for little hands to manipulate.
Should your baby use toothpaste?
Toothpaste is actually less important than you think when it comes to brushing your baby’s teeth. “The most important part of teeth brushing is the physical removal of the plaque,” Dr. Kwatra explains. According to both dentists we spoke to, once you start meeting with a dentist for your baby, they’ll be able to let you know when it’s the right time to start incorporating toothpaste. “Fluoride-free toothpaste is the best to use for babies,” says Dr. Barrer. “It’s recommended to use a very small smear of toothpaste, much less than one may think! We usually recommend an amount equal to a small grain of rice.” Speak with your pediatrician if your child requires additional fluoride. This usually depends on where you live and if there is fluoride in the water.