It’s inevitable. Daycares and schools are a breeding ground for germs. Sticky fingers, runny noses, and unestablished hygiene habits help bacteria and viruses make their rounds on a daily basis. However, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize these germs from coming into your home by stressing the importance of hand washing for toddlers and creating healthy routines that will last a lifetime.
Talk to your toddler about germs
Discussing personal hygiene and healthy habits with your little one is a natural part of parenting. However, when it comes to teaching them about germs, there is a fine line between making them aware and creating unnecessary fear. Start with the basics by explaining what germs are, some easy ways to prevent them from spreading, and situations that are beyond their control. Show them how easy it is to wash their hands each time after using the bathroom, playing outside, and before eating. By working these routines into their daily activities, it will become second nature to them and go a long way towards preventing illnesses.
Go ahead - get dirty!
While we do want our children to develop good hygiene practices, we don’t want them to obsess over germs. Childhood memories should be filled with time spent playing outdoors - whether that means playing in their own backyards, at school, or out and about exploring the world around them. Being immersed in nature has endless health benefits and allows children to let their imaginations soar by exploring new sights, sounds and textures. So, go ahead, encourage your child to get messy - as long as they wash their hands afterwards.
Make hand washing for toddlers fun
Every parent knows that the easiest way to teach your kid something new is to make it fun - and that goes for hand washing as well. To start, take your child shopping with you and let them choose their own special hand soap. At home, encourage them to play with it in the sink and practice rubbing their hands together to make it extra sudsy. Kids love bubbles so by teaching them to rub their hands together to make more of them, you are also teaching good hand washing habits. If your toddler has difficulty reaching the taps, purchase a child-friendly step stool so they can be both safe and independent. It’s also fun to incorporate a hand washing song like Happy Birthday or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and have your child sing the song all the way through while washing their palms, the backs of their hands, their nails and in between their fingers. The more you incorporate fun into this healthy habit, the better chance it will stick.
Lead by example
As with most things we teach our children, a parent’s most important job is to lead by example. Establish healthy hand washing for toddlers with good role modelling, repetition and recognition for a job well done. By being a great role model, your child will be sure to incorporate healthy hygiene habits of their own in no time.