While the modern Tooth Fairy idea might be new, traditions surrounding baby teeth date back as far as ancient times.
Every human culture has its own traditions surrounding the disposal of baby teeth. The concept of the Tooth Fairy, for example, dates back to ancient Norse and Northern European traditions.
Some cultures plant the baby tooth in the ground, believing a new tooth will grow in the child's mouth to replace it, while others throw the tooth on the roof of their home or throw the tooth into a fire for protection.
Many Central American cultures make ornate jewelry from baby teeth as a throwback to an ancient Viking custom where children's belongings were considered sacred and good luck talismans.
In Argentina, a glass of water with the lost tooth is left out for Ratoncito Perez. He drinks the water, takes the tooth, and puts a prize in the empty cup. In France, his name is La Petit Souris or Little Mouse.
Our modern American version of the Tooth Fairy started with a book written in 1927. Still, it didn't gain traction until Walt Disney's take on fairies popularized the concept and quickly became a presence in most households.
While we commonly tuck our children's teeth under their pillow in exchange for money, some families might look for an alternative to doling out cash for a lost tooth or want to incorporate a new family tradition.
Here are a few fun ideas:
Leave a Note – Imagine your child looking under their pillow to find an actual note from the Tooth Fairy! You could have a friend write it, so your child doesn't recognize the handwriting or print it on special paper. Tell them how proud you are that the tooth didn't have any decay or that the Tooth Fairy has never seen a more perfect baby tooth.
Get Glittery with It – Who loves glitter more than fairies? Spray some fake money or make a coupon offering your child a treat or ten extra minutes of screen time. Spray with hairspray or spray adhesive found at most craft stores and sprinkle it with superfine glitter.
Under the Pillow Alternative – Sometimes, a child is a light sleeper, or maybe the idea of a fairy coming into their room while they're asleep makes them anxious. Create a little Tooth Fairy safe space outside their bedroom. Have your child make a Tooth Fairy dish out of polymer clay, or find a small antique candy dish to leave your child's tooth in. Have your child write a note and leave it next to the bowl so the Tooth Fairy will know not to go into their room.
Keepsake Coins – A gold dollar coin makes a unique (and spendable) treat for your child. These are available at most banks, but you can ask your local stores if they have any too! Some banks have some foreign currency on hand. Money from another country in a foreign language will undoubtedly add some mystery and allure to the Tooth Fairy's transaction.
When your child has a loose tooth, they may be anxious or nervous. This is a great time to give extra snuggles and re-explain why baby teeth come out and how brushing and flossing twice a day, every day, can help keep their permanent teeth healthy and cavity-free!