Your 3-year-old: Pearly whites

Your 3-year-old: Pearly whites

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Your 3-year-old now

Your child probably has a full set of primary teeth. (The last of these, the second molars, usually come in between 23 and 33 months.) Though these baby teeth won't begin to fall out until 5 at the earliest (and more typically at age 6 or 7), it's important to keep them clean and cavity-free. Teeth are vital for proper chewing, and baby teeth create spaces for your child's permanent teeth. Unchecked infections or cavities even in baby teeth can result in the erosion of gums and supportive ligaments, potentially leading to permanent tooth loss.

If your child hasn't seen a dentist yet, it's time to set up a visit. She'll reinforce good brushing and flossing habits, discuss dental sealants to prevent cavities in baby teeth, and deal with any cavities that have already appeared.

Your life now

Leaving your child for the day or evening can be tough. Parents often have separation anxiety too – and sometimes a parent's anxiety can fuel it in the child. If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, you might want to examine your own attitude toward parting. You could be inadvertently causing a problem if:

  • Your goodbyes take more than a minute or two and involve many hugs and kisses, tips, and reminders to the sitter or the child.
  • You leave and then return quickly just to check on your child or give one last kiss.
  • You ask, "Will you miss me?" or are visibly emotional about leaving.
  • You provide complicated explanations for why you have to go and make elaborate promises about what you'll do together when you get back.

Your child's sharp antennae and busy imagination will pick up on your cues. A cheerful, confident attitude goes a long way in making partings pleasant. Keep in mind that it's healthy for a 3-year-old to spend time in the company of other adults, so by making goodbyes short and sweet, you're doing him a big favor.

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