Teaching your toddler good hygiene

Protecting your child from germs can be a challenge. Check out these great tips on teaching your toddler about staying clean and healthy through proper hygiene.

By Claire Smith

How to teach your toddler about good hygiene
Toddlers and germs go hand in hand (literally!) like springtime and mud, sniffles and sneezes, potty training and...accidents. You get the picture. Fortunately, if you take a proactive approach to teaching cleanliness, your toddler will learn good hygiene habits that will last a lifetime. Here are our top 10 to-dos.

Hand-washing tips
1. Clean before, clean afterward

Kids are easily distracted. Improve your odds of keeping their hands germ-free by ensuring they wash their hands after going to the bathroom, coming in from outdoor play, playing with pets, and after arts and crafts. Also, make them wash their hands before each meal or snack. Even if they're distracted from that apres-play hand-washing, that pre-lunchtime wash will keep germs off their finger food.

2. Wash hands thoroughly
Have your toddler sing the alphabet song while lathering up their hands; this will ensure they wash long enough to remove all grime and germs.

3. Make hand-washing fun
Toddlers are more likely to wash if they like their hand soap. Look for kid-friendly scents and a fun dispenser. If they love to dig in the dirt, buy a gentle nailbrush with a cute animal motif.

Toilet tips
4. Teach them to wipe themselves

Toilet training goes a lot easier if you use a special potty seat, whether self-contained, or one that fits overtop an adult toilet seat. Although you will want to do an "once-over" afterward, have your toddler wipe him- or herself with bathroom tissue. (Teach girls to always wipe from front to back to prevent fecal germs from infecting the vagina or bladder.)

5. Add an in-between cleaning
Toddler bowel movements can be messy. Use disposable wipes to add an extra level of cleanliness between baths.

6. Don’t make a big deal out of poo
While it's fine to make a joke about flushing "stinky poo" down the toilet, don’t act as though bowel movements are disgusting. Toddlers may grow ashamed of this bodily function, which could lead to problems down the road. Tell kids that BMs are normal, but that poop contains germs, so we always wash our hands thoroughly afterward (after peeing, too).

Bathing
7. Teach kids the proper names for their body parts

Boys and girls should know the correct medical names of their private parts so they can express themselves if they experience any irritation or pain. By itemizing the parts of their genitals and rectum, you can also help ensure proper washing habits in the bathtub by reminding them of each part to wash. Make sure toddlers rinse very thoroughly to prevent rashes.

8. Encourage hair washing
Toddlers often resent having to wash their hair. Reduce the stress (to you and them) by using a tear-free shampoo, and put stickers or a poster on your bathroom ceiling so they have something to distract themselves with while you wash and rinse.

9. Keep hair neat
Coach toddlers to brush their own hair morning and night to prevent knots. A good detangling shampoo or conditioner will make the process tear-free and more pleasant. A soft nylon brush made especially for toddlers is best for their still baby-fine hair.
 
10. Fend off pests
Help prevent the spread of lice by teaching toddlers to never share hats, scarves or hoodies.




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