Part of being a parent includes educating your children about healthy hygiene practices. So it's more than important to learn them from an early age. Check out these tips to keep your kids clean and healthy.
It's no fun to be sick, but when you're a parent of young children, it seems like germs and infections are everywhere! Watch out for germs flying through the air when your child's playmate sneezes. They'll spread through food after your little one eats an apple slice that falls on the floor. Or sometimes you comfort your crying child after they fall off their bike, only later to notice the remnants of a runny nose and skinned knee on your new white pants.
We get it- germs happen- but that's why good hygiene is essential- for your kids AND yourself! Your kids will imitate your behavior, so you've got to be a good role model and set a standard for them.
Set the stage for your children to practice independent hygiene habits from an early age. You can set up your child’s room and bathroom so that they can do some things for themselves at an early age. Get a personal step stool so your child can easily reach the sink, faucet, soap and toothbrush accessories. Make sure they can see themselves in a mirror. You should also hang a towel for the child at an accessible height. Establishing new habits can take a while, so allow enough time and be patient! You want your kids to enjoy adopting good personal hygiene; you don't want them to pressure them into staying clean.
Wash your hands together with your child and explain each movement step-by-step. After a few times, your kid can do this alone. Hand washing can also be fun if, for example, you let your child play with the soap. Explain to your child that they should always wash their hands after eating, playing, going to the toilet and even after shopping. For more information, you can refer to a two-part study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the importance of handwashing to prevent disease.
Does your kid want to take over brushing their teeth? That’s great news!
Make it fun by playing with water. You can play a song for a minute or two to make sure they're brushing for a long enough amount of time. Or maybe you can do a silly dance while they brush. But be sure you always do a final once-over until they’ve reached school age.
So that children don't remember "face washing" as a boring activity, you can easily make it more appealing in a playful way. First of all, let your little one take charge of the washcloth. Once they're finished cleaning, take the cloth and "greet" all the spots on their face. This can be a bit silly, as in the following:
"Good morning right eye, good morning left eye, good morning ears, good morning nose," etc., until you’ve washed all parts of the face. In this way, they remember everything that should be washed and at the same time, they'll have fun in the process
Especially in winter, many children get rough or dry skin. When that happens, use odorless moisturizing cream or lotion on your child. This is also a good way for children to get to know their bodies better.
Hygiene matters, but you can also go overboard with the hygiene process and wash too often. This can cause some harm since the acid mantle of the skin can break down, so you're actually more vulnerable to germs.
There are interesting discussions and studies around the possibility that too much hygiene can also be harmful. Some say, for example, that if children grow up in an environment that is too sterile, it could lead to an inability to develop a defense against bacteria. This in turn could potentially increase the susceptibility to infection and also result in allergies.
Therefore, take note: As with everything else, balanced hygiene in moderation is key.