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Caring for Your Infant’s Mouth

Your baby doesn’t have teeth, but you should still clean his or her mouth.

It is a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums soon after birth. Although there may be a little fussing at first, your infant will get used to having the mouth cleaned like other parts of the body. Many children grow to enjoy toothbrushing as part of their daily routine.

To clean your baby’s mouth:

  • Lay your infant in your lap. The head should be close to your chest so you can look down directly into your child’s mouth.
  • Clean the gums and the teeth — when they arrive — by rubbing a clean, damp, washcloth along the baby’s upper and lower gums. You can also use terrycloth finger cots, which fit over the finger and are made for this purpose. They are sold in many drugstores.
  • Follow these steps at least twice a day — once after breakfast and once after the last feeding of the day. After teeth come into the mouth, you can continue using cloth or switch to a soft-bristled, infant-sized toothbrush. By the time the molars (back teeth) first appear around age 1, it is best to use a toothbrush all the time.