Young children are exceptionally good at getting dirty, whether they come home covered in mud from playing outdoors or wipe their nose without a tissue, somehow, they will find a way.
Maintaining good hygiene is important, especially in a daycare center, and has many benefits: it can help prevent toddlers from getting sick and spreading germs around, it stops them from putting dirty hands in their mouths, and it helps them to be more accepted among their playmates.
Here are a few tips to help teach your toddler proper hygiene.
Getting young children kids into the habit of washing their hands is one of the best ways to prevent them from getting sick, particularly during cold and flu season. Proper hand hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs at a daycare center, and, while most daycares will encourage children to regularly wash their hands, to make sure your toddler stays healthy it is best to teach them to wash their hands of their own accord.
There are two important things you have to do to make sure your toddler learns good hand hygiene: teach them when to wash their hands, and how to wash their hands.
Teaching children to wash their hands is a five-step process:
- Wet your hands with warm or cold water.
- Put soap on your hands, either a squirt of liquid soap or rub a bar of soap into your hands.
- Sing Happy Birthday! Children should aim to rub their hands with soap for about 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
- Wash all the soap away with water.
- Dry your hands fully, either with a hand dryer, a paper towel or a hand towel.
To remind children when to wash their hands, try and teach them that they won’t always be able to see dirt and germs, so they need to remember to wash their hands in the following situations:
- When your hands look dirty, for example after playing outside
- Before eating food or helping parents to cook
- After going to the toilet
- After playing with animals
- After sneezing or coughing into your hands
If possible, try to use brightly colored soaps or find a soap that is scented to make the process more appealing.
Sneezing, Coughing and Blowing Your Nose
Young children are far more prone to getting sick than adults because their immune systems haven’t been exposed to the germs and bacteria that we encounter every day. In fact, on average young children experience between six and eight episodes of the common cold every year and spreading germs and mucous is the main cause. While colds aren’t available, spreading germs (and mucous) is. Leading by example is best here, so make sure to comment and show your little one whenever you blow your nose with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow, then praise them when they do the same.
Bathing and Washing
Sometimes kids don’t want to bath, which is why parents often try and make bath time fun with bubbles and bath toys. For the first few years, your children won’t be able to wash themselves, but it’s important to let them try things out. For example, show your toddler how to scrub under their arms and then let them try it. Just prepare for some wet floors.
Making sure toddlers bathe regularly also ensures that they are more accepted at daycare. Young kids are quick to point out when someone looks or smells different (even if they don’t really know good smells from bad smells yet) so making sure that you’re little one won’t be ostracized is a good reason to make bathing part of your bedtime routine. Just remind your child that they want to smell nice so they can make friends.
Teaching children good hygiene habits such as brushing their teeth and combing their hair from a young age will ensure these habits become part of their everyday routine. While children kids will always be kids and will always find a way to get dirty, instilling a desire for good personal hygiene is the best way to make sure your toddler will stay happy, healthy and hygienic at daycare and in their everyday life.