Baby & Toddler Teeth Brushing Guide
We promised to publish a guide to brushing infant teeth in our article about fluoride for under-fives earlier this month. That time has now come, so we explain below what’s generally accepted as the best approach for brushing teeth for babies, toddlers and under-fives in the UK.

When to Start Brushing Children’s Teeth

First, though, it’s important to start brushing children’s teeth — and in the right way — as soon as your baby has any teeth showing. That’s the case even if it’s only one or two teeth initially. Getting the brushing approach right will protect your child from tooth decay and oral health problems, of course, but will also reinforce the importance of a good oral hygiene regime to the child. They learn from adults all the time so, when parents make a habit of cleaning children’s teeth at least twice a day, children are also more likely to continue to do so once they reach an age when they take over teeth brushing completely, by themselves. For the same reason, it’s a good idea to let them see you brushing your teeth too. Their totally independent brushing comes usually around the age of 7, by the way. However, they should be encouraged to actively brush teeth themselves — under close parental supervision and often with hands-on help — well before that. Let’s take it step by step:

Brushing Babies’ Teeth

Just a smear of the toothpaste is needed for babies & children up to the age of 3Babies’ teeth usually start to appear around the age of 6 months of age, although it varies. In fact, some babies are even born with one or more teeth that have already erupted, as it’s called, through their gums. Whichever age it is that they first appear, that is the age parents should start to brush their teeth.
So, how do you brush a baby’s teeth? Firstly, you need to ensure that you’re using the right toothpaste, with the right fluoride content, so ensure that you carefully read the label. For babies and children up to the age of 3, use either ‘children’s’ fluoride toothpaste that has at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride in it, up to a maximum of 1,500ppm if using a ‘family’ toothpaste (learn more about fluoride for children here).

Just a smear of the toothpaste is needed, up to the age of 3. You can use an infant’s toothbrush, a ‘finger brush’ or even simply a small piece of clean gauze wrapped around your finger. The easiest method is to sit your baby or toddler on your knee, facing away from you with their head resting on your chest, with their head tilted backwards a little. Taller toddlers can stand, but the same approach works. Facing a mirror is an excellent way to do it, since you can then both see how you are brushing your child’s teeth — and the child will learn from this. Use small circular movements to smear the toothpaste on all areas of their teeth and also on their gums. They should spit out any foam that’s been generated but they do not need to rinse. Indeed, not rinsing means that the fluoride will continue to protect their teeth for longer.

Once they’re used to this happening at least twice a day, you can start to encourage them to use their own hands, which you can help to guide. They will soon pick up the idea, but you’ll need to continue to closely supervise.

Brushing Teeth from 3 to 6 years of age

The same approach works fine for children once they reach the age of 3 upwards, except now they should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Clearly this will generate more foam, so it’s important for them to spit out the excess foam but, again, they do not need to rinse as not doing so will continue to protect their teeth from plaque and possible decay.

Brushing Teeth from the Age of 7

By the time they reach the age of 7, children should have picked up exactly how to brush their own teeth unaidedBy the time they reach the age of 7, children should have picked up exactly how to brush their own teeth — unaided — and should be doing so at least twice a day. They should use children’s or family toothpaste containing between 1,350 and 1,500ppm of fluoride when doing so and, again, a pea-sized amount.

Tips for Terrific Toddler Teeth!

  • One of the daily times for teeth brushing should be at the end of the day, before they go to bed. In this way, children’s teeth and gums will be protected overnight — quite a few hours of protection when you think about it.
  • Dental treatment for children is free under the NHS, so make the most of this; for example, if your child needs a check-up for possible treatment. Going to the dentist regularly for check-ups also sets a good example that they can follow. Going from an early age is more likely to put them at ease at such visits.
  • Give teeth individual attention when brushing. Ensure front, sides/edges and back are all thoroughly brushed along with the adjoining gums. If this approach is used, every tooth will get a great clean. There’s even an app for teeth cleaning, which makes it thorough, educational and fun (available on IOS and on Android).
  • A typical teeth brushing session should last no less than 2 full minutes. That way, each tooth and all gums should get ample attention.
  • Teeth brushing should always be supervised for young children. Don’t let them play, walk around or run with their brush in their mouth — it would be very dangerous for their safety.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and anything with added sugar contentAvoid added sugar in drinks and unnecessary added sugar in food as this leads to plaque build-up and eventually to decay. Moreover, the longer sugar is in the mouth, the worse it is likely to be. So, check labels, avoid added sugar, sweets, and sugary biscuits etc. except, perhaps, as occasional treats. Even with fruit juice there will be lots of natural sugar, so this can be diluted with water to reduce its concentration. 1 part fruit juice to ten parts water is a good guide. Generally speaking milk and water are, of course, the best drinks for young children. Even though natural milk contains sugars, it’s far less likely to cause tooth decay.
  • Brush teeth immediately after meals or any sweet drinks if at all possible, especially if anything sugary has been included or if fruit juice was drunk. This will stop the build-up of plaque in its tracks at an early stage and, in the case of fruit juice, also wash away the natural fruit acids (which can otherwise also harm teeth).

The Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

Achieving a good approach to teeth brushing and oral hygiene, right from an early age, is great for children. It sets up a good habit for them to continue independently and protects their teeth and gums from decay as well as from unsightly discolouration — or worse. Regular teeth brushing also gives children fresher breath along with great-looking teeth — and that’s also great for their self-confidence. What’s more, studies show that there is a link between good oral health and general health.  People who have poor oral hygiene are statistically at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, so looking after teeth and gums is incredibly important.

People who have poor oral hygiene are statistically at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

About Our Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16We, at Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery, hope you find this guide useful. We offer the highest quality childcare for babies and children aged up to five in our outstanding nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our nursery and pre-school is near Bearwood, Smethwick, Harborne and Ladywood, making it convenient for anyone living or working in those areas. We even have our own Forest School, which gives children wonderful learning experiences in nature. Do get in contact as soon as possible if you are looking for weekday childcare for your little one in the Birmingham area, as spaces are limited. We’d love to tell you more, so please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or to show you and your little one around the lovely setting.

Fluoride for Under-5s: Facts & Myths
Fluoride helps protect against tooth decayIn this article, we look at fluoride use and its importance during children’s early years in the fight against tooth decay. This includes useful facts and guidelines for parents, the recommended fluoride content in toothpaste for babies and under-fives, as well as dispelling a common myth around unproven fluoride health concerns.

Fluoride

As well as being found in commercial toothpastes, fluoride is naturally found in several foods, including fish and tea, as well as in the drinking water supply. It’s a natural mineral that hugely benefits the population by significantly reducing tooth decay. This is achieved through a reduction in the effects of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth, as well as by strengthening tooth enamel.

It’s interesting to note that children whose teeth are regularly exposed to fluoride when their young teeth are developing tend to have a reduced amount of grooving in the surface of their teeth. This allows harmful plaque to be removed much more easily, again helping to fight tooth decay.

“Research over 60 years shows that 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million of fluoride in the water supply reduces tooth decay by between 40 and 60%”

For that reason, where the natural water supply falls below this fluoride strength, additional fluoride is often added by the water companies, in order to make up the shortfall. The amount varies from place to place, though, and can be checked by contacting your local water supplier.

Fluoride in Toothpaste – How Much is Right for Your Child?

How much fluoride is right for babies and under-fives?The correct fluoride content in toothpaste usually* depends upon the age of your child.

For babies and toddlers aged under 3, use a children’s or family toothpaste containing at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride, but no more than 1,500ppm. Just a smear is enough for children of this young age and the little one does not need to rinse their mouth afterwards. Indeed, leaving a tiny bit of toothpaste residue in the mouth will protect their teeth for longer. Their teeth should be brushed at least twice every day from the moment the first tooth appears.

Children aged between 3 and 6 should also use toothpaste containing between 1,000ppm and 1,500ppm of fluoride, but this time they should use a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush. As with babies, the children do not need to rinse (so that the effects of the fluoride last longer) but they can, of course, spit out after brushing. Again, they should brush twice a day as a minimum.

* If a child has a higher risk of tooth decay for any reason, a dentist may recommend a higher strength toothpaste.

Brushing Should Be Supervised

Children’s teeth brushing should be closely supervised by a parent or responsible adult until they are at least 7 years old. This is to ensure that teeth are being brushed properly and thoroughly, as well as for safety reasons. Children must never associate toothbrushes with playing, and certainly must never run around with them in their mouths.

Fluoride Varnish

The NHS suggests that children aged 3 or more would benefit from a coating of fluoride varnish two or more times per year. This is something that’s available from dentists and involves a coating of varnish being applied to the teeth. The varnish contains high levels of fluoride and helps the teeth to resist decay and it also strengthens enamel. Even baby teeth can be protected by fluoride varnish. The varnish is particularly useful to anyone who is particularly at risk of developing, or is naturally prone to, tooth decay, or who suffers from a condition called dry mouth.

Does Fluoride Do Any Harm?

Learn the facts about fluorideFluoride has been of enormous benefit to millions of people around the world, significantly reducing tooth decay in rich and poor communities alike, even when present only in the water supply. According to both the Oral Health Foundation and the NHS, fluoride is absolutely safe for both children and adults. While there are some that say it can be linked to a variety of health conditions, there has been no compelling evidence to scientifically back up the claims.

One exception to that rule is the possibility of developing dental fluorosis, which is a condition caused by exposure to too much fluoride when young teeth are developing (typically below the age of 7). In mild cases, it may cause flecking or white lines on the surface of the teeth. In more severe cases, pitting and discolouration may occur. However, in the UK, the condition only rarely occurs in a way that adversely affects the appearance of teeth, not least because fluoride levels in water supplies are carefully monitored by an official body set up to do so — the Drinking Water Inspectorate (‘DWI’).

A Note About Sugar

This article is geared towards increasing parent knowledge around fluoride use and its importance during children’s early years. Before we sign off, though, it would be remiss of us not to mention that one of the best ways to avoid tooth decay is, of course, to avoid added sugar in both food and drinks. When sugar coats teeth, plaque is likely to build up and then your children are more at risk of tooth decay. It’s even worse when the sugar coating and subsequent plaque are left for longer periods. Hence, it’s important to both avoid unnecessary sugar in the first place and to brush children’s teeth regularly to remove it. We cover this and related brushing guidelines in our separate teeth brushing guide for babies, toddlers and young children, here.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16This article was brought to you by Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery, a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. We’re one of just a few nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick, so would suit parents living or working in any of those locations. We’re also one of the rare Birmingham nurseries with a Forest School, which will allow your child to benefit from everything that nature and the outdoors has to offer. We offer daytime childcare and early years education to babies and children aged up to five, Monday to Friday, for 51 weeks of the year. Healthy food, drinks and snacks are all a part of this.

For more information about about a possible nursery place for your child here at Leaps & Bounds, please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here and we’ll be very happy to help.

Safeguarding for Nurseries - A Guide for Parents
Protection from harm, accidents and abuseBack in September, we touched upon the safeguarding and welfare of children in our Rough Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’). In today’s post, we’ll go into more detail about how we approach the safeguarding, safety and general welfare of children at Leaps & Bounds nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. For example, in relation to the recruitment of suitable, trustworthy staff for the nursery, having the right security measures in place, knowing what to do in the event of illness, accident or emergency and suitability of equipment and the setting as a whole. This information should be of comfort to parents looking for suitable – and safe – nursery places in the Birmingham area.

Safeguarding children is, in essence, all about keeping children safe, secure, healthy and out of harm’s way. Every child deserves to feel secure and safe and indeed will learn most effectively when this is the case.

Safeguarding Measures

Early years settings like ours adhere to some excellent, pre-defined rules around the safeguarding and welfare of children. These must fall in line with several statutory Government directives along with the procedures set out by both the Local Safeguarding Children Board (‘LSCB’) and the EYFS. They EYFS states:

“Providers must be alert to any issues for concern in the child’s life at home or elsewhere. Providers must have and implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children.”

So the rules we follow are more far-reaching than simply keeping children safe at the nursery itself. The safeguarding measures we follow cover ways to watch out for abuse or maltreatment happening elsewhere, as well as setting guidelines for safeguarding at the nursery itself. When Ofsted makes visits to nurseries including ours, they will also be looking to ensure we follow all the safeguarding procedures effectively.

Child safety

Childcare Professionals

Any staff member who will have contact with children is checked for suitability, including enhanced criminal record and barred list checks (previously known as a ‘CRB’ check but now replaced by the Disclosure and Barring Service or ‘DBS’). Additional criminal record checks are made for any staff member who has lived or worked outside the UK. Childcare professionals are also vetted in a number of other ways including identity checks, checks to ensure they are not under the influence of alcohol or other substance, and much more.

Every childcare setting, including Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, has a designated trained professional who takes lead responsibility for the safeguarding of children. The lead person also liaises with statutory local agencies and the LSCB. Ofsted will also check to ensure that the nursery is implementing the appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures when it visits periodically. So, there are multiple levels of safeguarding checks, by several independent professionals.

All childcare staff at the nursery are suitably trained to understand the safeguarding policies in place and know what to do if there are any concerns. Staff are also expected to keep and maintain records.

The nursery also, of course, ensures that staff members are suitably trained, qualified, experienced and supervised, with the requisite skills and knowledge needed for the job being undertaken. Our childcare professionals are also given ample opportunities for additional training and professional development, so that the quality of care continually improves, to the benefit of the children.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery also keeps exceptionally high staff to child ratios.

  • For children under two, there is at least one staff member for every three children.
  • For children aged two, there is at least one staff member for every four children.
  • For children aged three and over, there is at least one staff member for every eight to thirteen children (a range is indicated because the ratio differs depending upon the particular tasks being undertaken by the children).

The Key Person

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, every child is also allocated their own ‘Key Person’; a member of staff who is responsible for tailoring the learning and development programme to the needs of each individual child. The Key Person also engages with parents or carers so that the learning and development programme is supported when the child is at home. There is also a safeguarding element to the children having their own Key Person as that staff member will keep a continuous eye on the child’s progress and wellbeing throughout their time with the nursery. In this way, the child should attain the very best outcome and achieve their own individual learning and development goals.

Special Educational Needs & Disabilities

Leaps & Bounds has arrangements in place to support children with special educational needs (‘SEN’) and disabilities. With that in mind, the nursery also has a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), who is also the Behavioural Co-ordinator (‘BECo’) for the setting.

Protection from infection in a pandemicMedicines & Infections

It goes without saying that staff at the nursery take precautions to stop the spread of any infections and that appropriate actions are taken if children become ill. This is more relevant than ever with the pandemic affecting the country so deeply this year (take a look at our anti-COVID precautions to get an idea of how we deal with the threat of a pandemic).

Staff also have strict protocols in place in relation to the administering of any medicines prescribed by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or dentist. They will only be given, of course, with written permission of the parent or carer of the child involved. Staff involved are also suitably trained where any medical administration requires medical or technical knowledge. Written records are kept whenever medicines are given and the parent/carer(s) informed.
Medical care policies

Injuries & Accidents

At least one staff member is always available, whether at the nursery premises or accompanying children on outings, who has a current Paediatric First Aid (‘PFA’) certificate. PFA training, relevant to the care of young children and babies as appropriate, is renewed every three years. The nursery also has its own official Medical Co-ordinator and a suitably equipped First Aid box is available and accessible at all times. Any accidents, injuries or treatments are recorded and parents/carers informed. The nursery would also follow strict Ofsted rules and protocols in the unlikely event of a serious accident or injury.

Healthy Food & Drink

Safeguarding is also about children’s health. With that in mind, the nursery serves only healthy, nutritious, balanced, meals, snacks and drinks. Food preferences, special dietary requirements and allergies are all catered for. Fresh drinking water is also available at any time. Food is prepared under strict, hygienic conditions, by people suitably trained in food hygiene. Equipment for the preparation of baby food/milk is sterilised, as appropriate.

A Safe Environment

The nursery itself does, of course, fall under the general Health & Safety rules. As such, it is always fit for purpose and subject to all the health, safety, hygiene and fire safety precautions that one would expect and, indeed, are a legal requirement of such premises. The nursery maintains the appropriate insurance policies too.

With regard to being fit for purpose, the premises and equipment are supplied in accordance with suitability for the age groups using them, i.e. babies and young children. This applies in both indoor and outdoor areas where children play. Risk assessments are undertaken in order to identify areas that may require measures to be put in place or where items need, for instance, to be maintained. This applies to outings too.

We have a proactive approach to safety, rather than a reactive one.

Emergency evacuation procedures are also in place in the event of a fire or other emergency. Emergency exits are also clearly identified and kept free of obstacles. In the case of fire, the nursery has appropriate detection and control mechanisms in place and these are regularly maintained to ensure that they are in working order at all times.
A caring environment at Leaps & Bounds Day NurserySleeping babies and children are monitored and regularly checked. Babies have their own, separate baby room for this purpose.

In regard to children leaving the premises, further strict protocols are also in place at the nursery. These include not allowing children to go outside or leave the premises unsupervised and, when it’s time for children to go home, rules that only allow them to be picked up by individuals that have been agreed with parents. This is achieved through a password system if parents or carers have arranged for someone else to pick children up. The staff at the nursery will check both the ID of that person and accuracy of the password before the child in question is released from the nursery.

The nursery also takes serious steps to prevent unauthorised people from entering the premises, with protocols in place to identify anyone that does visit. The nursery has CCTV in place indoors and outdoors as well as at the main entrance. During the pandemic lock-down we are are also not allowing parents, carers or visitors inside the building, so as to keep everyone safe from the possible spread of COVID-19.

Parents also love the online ‘app’ that they can use to get regular updates about their child’s activity each day at the nursery. They can see photos of what their child has been doing, what they have eaten and when they’ve had a sleep. We should add that the app does not access the CCTV system, for security reasons.

Childcare providers like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery are also expected to keep and maintain records. This includes obtaining and/or confidential sharing of information with parents or carers and, if appropriate and when required to do so, with other professionals who work with the child including social services, the police and Ofsted if applicable. Records are kept secure, of course, and information is only shared with those who have a legal right to see it. The two-way flow of information, when appropriate, is designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and the smooth, efficient and appropriate running of the nursery itself.
Our Safeguarding policy is available to read or download here.

We hope this information reassures parents and carers who may be looking for a high quality nursery in the Birmingham area.

Children are safe & happy at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, BirminghamA Place for your Baby or Toddler at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, B16, close to Birmingham city centre. It’s conveniently located if you are looking for childcare nurseries near you around Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick. For more information about a possible place for your child, call 0121 246 4922 or contact us or book a visit here. We’d be happy to show you around, so that you can see the nursery for yourself (appropriately socially distanced etc., of course). Get in touch!