The Importance of Toddler Hygiene

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Toddler Hygiene at Parkland Children’s Academy

Toddlers and dirt – they seem to be attracted to each other and every parent knows that toddlers are not only good at getting dirty but also at making a mess; whether it is playing in the mud after the rain, wiping their nose on their clothes, or even just using their chocolate covered hand to scratch an itch on their face. Do not despair; according to child psychologists, this the perfect time to start teaching your little one about the importance of good hygiene routines and instilling healthy habits in their everyday lives. Here are some things that we implement into our daily routine at Parkland Children’s Academy to help foster healthy hygiene habits, that can easily be adapted and used at home to continue their hygiene education:

Washing their Hands
Every parent dreads the changing of the seasons and winter as they bring with them the threat of sniffling noses and wheezy coughs. During cold and flu season, one of the best ways to keep your toddler healthy is by showing them the correct way to wash their hands. Make this daily routine a fun way to interact with your child and they will see it as an exciting game that they play with you, in turn encouraging them to wash their hands more often.

Educate your toddler about why it is important that they wash their hands by using simple explanations: “We must wash our hands before every meal to get rid of all the bad germs and dirt that could make us sick.” Do not be afraid to give you toddler gentle reminders of when they should wash their hands, like after using the potty, when they blow their nose, after playing outside, etc. Walk your toddler through the steps and show them how to properly wash their hands by turning on the water, allowing your little one to wet her hands, give them a little soap, and allow them to lather up by rubbing their hands together ensuring the front and back of their hands are lathered up. Don’t forget in-between the fingers! Sing along with your toddler to their favorite song to ensure they wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. When your toddler has finished show them how to rinse and dry their hands. Using colorful towels or scented soaps can make the whole process much more appealing to youngsters.

Sneezing and Coughing Etiquette
The best way to teach your little toddler about sneezing and coughing etiquette is to demonstrate the correct behavior by using yourself as an example. Show them what to do and walk them through the process: “See how I put the tissue over my nose and mouth so that I don’t spread any germs?” Show your toddler how to blow their nose by instructing them to gently blow while pressing one nostril closed and exhaling through the other nostril.

Be patient with your little one as it is difficult for a toddler to know when a sneeze or cough is about to emerge and act on it. If this is the case tell your child, “That was a close one you almost caught that cough. I bet you will catch it next time”. Another way for your toddler to practice good hygiene is for them to practice on a stuffed animal. Make this into a game where she is the doctor and the stuffed animal is the patient and she has to talk and show the patient what to do to stay clean and avoid getting sick.

It is important to remember that your toddler will not become the queen of clean overnight and she might slip up from time to time. Be patient and gentle, remind your child what to do if they do cough or sneeze, and when to wash their hands. Allow your child to start getting familiar with good hygiene and build healthy habits that your child will keep with them right up into adulthood.

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