How to get toddlers to spit out the toothpaste? Talk amongst yourselves.

Kristen asks:

Can anyone suggest how to get a toddler to spit out the toothpaste?

I use such a small amount of toothpaste that it's not much of an issue around here. Any ideas?


  1. Shelley says

    We brush our teeth together. So, when I spit my daughter spits. She doesn’t always spit all of it out but we use the toddler friendly toothpaste and not that much of it. So, it’s really not the big of a deal. We’ve been brushing our teeth together for awhile. She even use to spit before we used toothpaste. She had to do exactly what mom was doing.

  2. Nathan says

    We use a very little amount of toothpaste, but also have a ritual where she brushes with toothpaste, rinses the brush, then brushes with a wet toothbrush to clean the mouth. It works out well.

    Then she like to rub her face in a towel. Who knew?

  3. Duane says

    My nearing 5yr old is a spitting champ, she cocks her head way back and then lets fly. My nearing 3yr old doesn’t yet get the concept. She’s still using the “ok to swallow” toothpaste for the really young. When it comes time to spit I always make a big showing of it complete with funny faces, noises and anything I can think of. But when it comes time to go “Bleh” into the sink, she’ll swallow the toothpaste, lean over the sink and say “Bleh.”

  4. kt says

    We just practiced. A lot. Bathtime is a good time to do this – demonstrate, then give them a cup of water and let them go to town.

    (I recommend having the video camera handy. We still have the videos of my daughter at 14 mos. shouting, “SPEET! SPEET!” and fountaining water. High hilarity.)

  5. Jenn says

    We still use the kiddy toothpaste without floride so it doesn’t matter. Dad is the toothbrushing chief around here so I’m sure he’ll come up with something creative when the time comes.

    The little girl wiping her face reminded me of one of my mother’s sayings. If you don’t have to wash your face after brushing your teeth you haven’t done a good job.

  6. Yet Another Jen says

    We have the same problem (daughter will be 3 in June). I too use a really small amount so I don’t worry about it too much. We work on it but she always swallows before she spits (heh) so there’s nothing left.

    Just a note about the non-fluoridated toothpaste…be sure to check your city’s water supply to see if it’s fluoridated. Mine isn’t (Vancouver, BC) and I’ve been told by every dentist I’ve spoken to here that the fluoride is really important, so people here should be using toothpaste with fluoride – not the toddler stuff. DD’s dentist actually said she thought it was good for them to swallow a tiny bit, since the fluoride works from the inside too, and we don’t get it from our water. Just something to check on…

  7. Atlanta Jill says

    I’m starting to think that having yummy candy tasting toothpaste is making this harder for us parents. There is something to be said for a strong minty flavor they don’t like so well. I have the same mixed feelings about medicine with flavors so good my 3yo wants to “eat” it.

  8. Tim says

    We tell our 2 year-old that the brushing gets the “germ-bugs” off of her teeth and she believes she can see them when she spits at the end of brushing (the toothpaste is pink and colors her spit, which she thinks is the color of the “bugs”)…but, we still only have about a 50% success rate with this method.

  9. Simon says

    I keep a Dixie cup of water at the ready when our toddler (3) is brushing. He sits on the counter beside the sink, and I give him the water to “rinse and spit” as soon as he’s done. I started out by putting a target (plastic bath toy) in the sink for him to aim at to encourage the spitting, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

  10. Amy Lu says

    My 6 year old started swishing and spitting at an early age. No problems, I don’t even remember teaching her this “on purpose.”

    My 4 year old is a different story. I was chatting with him on the way to bed the other night and was asking him what his routine was (and he replied like I was a newbie and not the one that invented the routine in the first place.) I was surprised when he said “…and den we eat da toot-paste…” I said “noooo, we brush our teeth and then spit it out!” Which was not well received.

    So I invented the Spitting Contest. Rules: everyone had to take turns. If you hit the drain dead on, you got to go again.

    Now we have the spitting contest while brushing. So far, it’s working, and we’re all improving our aim at the same time.

  11. Tabetha says

    I use orajel toddler toothpaste when my children are young. It is flouride free and not harmful to swallow. When they reach the appropriate age (which may be different from child to child), I make “big kid” toothpaste seem very exciting. I teach them to spit with the orajeg training toothpaste, and move to “big kid” toothpaste when it is obvious they can spit. Here is the link for oragel toddler training toothpaste:

  12. Piove says

    Our now 14 month old has had a toothbrush since way before he had teeth. This is because he would always grab one of ours and drool over it, and this was a more pleasant alternative…
    He watches us brush our teeth and emulates everything.
    We also use a herbal toothpaste, so no problems if he doesn’t get rid of it all.

  13. Rani says

    I’m facing the same problem too. My son really likes the taste of kiddy toothpaste, and he would nibble it, and ask for more (even though I only put very tiny amount of paste). I never get him to spit. help!

  14. hedra says

    Had better luck with the spitting by sneaking a little mint paste onto the brush before she put the yummy stuff on herself… not icky utterly, but somehow not quite as yummy as before. Huh, funny that!

    We MUST use fluoride paste due to dental issues (3 of 4 of our kids have soft enamel), so we just limit how much is on the brush, how often, and encourage the spitting. We do not do the rinse-with-water routine because we’re trying to keep the fluoride ON the teeth (no liquids in mouth for 30 minutes is the plan, I think we usually make it about 15 minutes, sigh). But spitting is good. Coaching them in noisy spitting (raspberry-style) is one place to start. Also the ‘drool’ technique. And foamier toothepaste is easier to spit out, too (kids paste tends to be low foaming), though it is probably also easier to swallow.

    This will at least be something they outgrow.

  15. Pamela says

    Great to read everyone’s comments here. So far my 21-month-old loves to spit (copying me), but I can’t get him to let me brush, no matter what I do. All he does is bite, bite, bite the toothbrush, no matter how much I tell him he needs to get the “bugs” off his teeth. *sigh*

  16. Patrick Fitzgerald says

    To teach my daughter to spit, I used a tub crayon to draw a bullseye target in the sink.

  17. kittenpie says

    I have mine spit directly into a cup, and since she is so “contained” she is allowed to make a huge rude raspberry out of it – always tempting!

  18. Erica says

    I too have struggled with this and I appreciate everyone’s great ideas. I have taken away a few tidbits to try. I made the mistake of letting my 2 1/2 year old try to brush her own teeth from a very early age (with me finishing up for her, of course), but now all she wants to do is chew on the toothbrush with the yummy toothpaste on it. I tried to get her to spit in the sink with big kid toothpaste but she didn’t understand it. After a few times she would just freak out, run out of the bathroom and demand to use the toothpaste that she can swallow. I vow with my next child, we’ll do it right from the start.

  19. San says

    I managed to get my son to spit when he was about 21/2 yrs old. I put one of his small little dinos standing up and he has to ‘shoot’ them down. He gets a kick out of covering them with the form from the paste and then knocking them down when he rinse. Same trick with getting him to concentrate on his aim when his pees. I would fold a tissue into a boat and he has to sink it. :)

  20. Anthony says

    We have a hard time getting Ali (25 months) to stop spitting the rest of the day, so it was a natural transition to do it while brushing. Whenever she spits, we go with a gentle ‘When do we spit?’ to which she enthusiastically responds ‘brush teeth and in the bath’.

    It still seems like she generally swallows a good deal of it (which isn’t much) as her spitting isn’t very productive, but its only been a couple of weeks. She’ll get there!

  21. Chelsea says

    My kids learned to spit best outside with watermelon seeds. We made it a game to see who could spit the farthest…they still love this one when ever we have watermelon! Then we just talked about that’s how to spit with toothpaste as well. Good luck hope this helps someone out there. P.S. This wasn’t my hint….my grandpa use to do it with me and well it is a fun little game, but it did help my 3 and 1 year old with spitting and tooth past too!