Hygiene isn’t just about maintaining a good appearance. In fact, it is a proactive way to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Good personal hygiene habits will help your child stay healthy, ward off infectious illnesses and diseases, maintain a healthy body image and develop a healthy personality.
Children do not have the knowledge to understand what hygiene is all about. Therefore, it is the parents’ duty to teach their children the importance of hygiene and good hygiene habits.
When it comes to teaching children, it is better to start early, with simple practices at home. Children pick up things fast and learn quickly. This will also help establish good habits that will remain with them throughout their lives.
Here are the 10 good hygiene habits you should teach your kids early.
1. Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene practices should be a part of every child’s daily routine. In fact, parents should take proper care of oral hygiene from the moment the child grows their first tooth.
By cleaning a child’s teeth and gums, you can help prevent a wide range of health issues, including bad breath, cavities and heart disease later in their life.
Once your child is old enough, you need to supervise the way he or she is practicing oral hygiene. You should make your child brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes twice per day. Also, encourage your child to clean their teeth after each meal to prevent the growth of bacteria and avoid tooth decay.
Along with brushing, flossing and rinsing the mouth with a mouthwash is also important.
Proper brushing and flossing is a learned skill that can only be improved with practice. It is the duty of parents to instill this important hygiene habit in children at an early age.
At the same time, you must make sure your child is not eating sugary junk food in excess, which has a detrimental effect on the teeth.
If your child is not taking proper care of their teeth, bring the subject up for discussion. If needed, take him or her to a dentist. A dentist can help teach your child about the consequences of bad breath, symptoms of dental problems and how rotten teeth can jeopardize their appearance and career options in the future.
2. Nail Hygiene
Nails take a lot of care and pampering to stay healthy, so it’s important to teach your child how to care for them at an early age.
Developing healthy nail-care habits is a must, as nails are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. These bacteria can easily transfer to your child’s eyes, nose and mouth, making him or her sick.
For smaller kids, parents should ensure that the fingernails are clipped every week. Keeping the nails short is a good way to reduce the amount of germs present under the nails. Plus, short nails stay cleaner and break less often.
Once your child is comfortable enough to trim his or her own nails, teach them some basic rules, such as nails should be trimmed after taking a bath or shower because they are softer then, nails should be cut straight across to prevent ingrown nails, rough edges of nails should be smoothed down with a nail file or emery board, and teach them not to cut the cuticles as they protect the nail root.
You can even invest in a good nail brush and teach your child to scrub the dirt out from under their nails before bedtime.
If your child develops the habit of nail biting, discourage it immediately. Nail biting can transfer harmful bacteria to the mouth, which can then make their way to the digestive tract causing many problems.
3. Bathing Ritual
Your baby may love or hate to take a bath, but bathing is one personal hygiene habit that you should instill in your child at a tender age.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and it plays a major role in protecting the body from external elements, such as dirt, dust and countless bacteria. With regular bathing, you can keep the whole body clean.
Bathing or showering also helps get rid of dead skin cells, so as to make way for new skin cells. This is important for healthy and beautiful skin.
Parents should give younger children a bath, and never leave them alone in the bathroom. On days, when you cannot give them a bath, a sponge bath is another option.
Once your child is big enough to take a shower or bath on their own, supervise and teach them properly in the beginning.
Make your child take a shower twice a day, once in the morning and again before going to bed. While taking a shower, teach them how to clean the different parts of the body – the hands, armpits, legs, feet, groin, joints, back, belly button (navel), elbows and knees. Show them how to do it and then let them practice it.
Also, teach them to pat dry their body after bathing and then apply a light moisturizer to keep it hydrated. Make them change their underwear daily and wear clean clothes.
4. Hand Hygiene
When it comes to hand hygiene, hand washing is an integral part that parents should teach their children at a young age. Hand-washing is a simple activity that takes just a few seconds of time, but this habit can keep germs and infections away.
Washing the hands frequently can decrease illnesses in children, as it is often through the hands that harmful microbes enter the body. Improper hand hygiene is one of the main reasons behind diarrhea among children as well as adults.
For younger babies, wipe their hands with a clean washcloth at frequent intervals.
As your baby starts growing, teach him or her how to wash their hands thoroughly, and not just wet them under water.
Children should be taught to wash their hands with soap and water. After applying soap, make sure your child rubs his or her hands together to lather up for about 20 to 30 seconds, then rinse off the soap completely with clean water.
Hand-washing should be practiced before and after meals, after using the washroom, after playing in the dirt or with pets, after coughing or sneezing, and after being in contact with someone who’s sick.
5. Foot Hygiene
Just like hand and skin hygiene, it is important to teach your child about foot hygiene. Proper foot hygiene will reduce the risk of smelly feet, ringworm and other foot infections.
Wash your baby’s feet at least twice a day, and make sure to dry in between the toes completely. The water accumulated between the toes is one of the reasons behind foot fungus. Do not make your child wear footwear all day, especially without socks.
Once your child grows old enough to take care of his or her feet on their own, teach them some basic tips. These tips include:
- Washing their feet at least twice a day. To clean the feet properly, teach them to scrub with soap between the toes, the soles of the feet and under the toenails.
- Teach them to use a clean cloth to wipe their feet dry, especially in between the toes. Then, apply some moisturizer to keep the feet hydrated.
- Encourage them to keep their shoes clean and dry.
Being a parent, always buy socks made of or lined with cotton, instead of synthetic fibers. When it comes to shoes, leather and canvas shoes are the best as they allow the feet to breathe.
6. Toileting Hygiene
Once your young child becomes toilet-trained, you as a parent need to focus on the habits that your child needs to learn to keep their little parts clean.
Teach your child to wipe thoroughly from front to back with toilet paper after using the washroom. Teach them to continue wiping with fresh toilet paper until it comes out clean. They should also be taught how to flush the toilet and use the bidet, if you have one.
If needed, put a sign on the bathroom wall under the toilet paper roll to remind your child what he or she needs to do after using the washroom.
Also, make children wash their hands each time they use the washroom. These healthy habits will help minimize irritation and keep infections at bay.
Have patience while teaching your child about toileting hygiene, as a lot of children have trouble mastering these habits.
7. Coughing and Sneezing Hygiene
As soon as your child is old enough, it is important for parents to teach him or her about coughing and sneezing etiquette. These simple etiquettes are especially important for infection-control measures.
A handkerchief should be your child’s best friend. Teach them to cover their mouth and face, using either a handkerchief or a tissue, while coughing or sneezing. This can help prevent spreading germs to others.
It is helpful to demonstrate what to do when you sneeze yourself. You may have to demonstrate the techniques a few times until your child masters them.
At the same time, teach your child that when there’s no tissue handy, he or she should sneeze or cough into the inside of his or her elbow.
Also, teach your child how to wipe a runny nose and blow their nose gently into a tissue when it’s blocked, which can make breathing easier. Make your child throw the tissue in the garbage after use and wash his or her hands after sneezing or coughing.
Plus, teach your child to keep their fingers out of their nose. For babies and very young kids, nose delving is simply exploration and should be discouraged as soon as possible.
8. Home Hygiene
In addition to personal hygiene, it is important to teach children about maintaining home hygiene when they are at home.
Keeping one’s home and surrounding area clean is a healthy habit that all should follow, including children. This is an important step toward a clean and healthy society.
- Teach children to keep their belongings, such as toys and books, in their specific places.
- Teach children not to throw things in the home as well as public places. Waste products should be thrown in the garbage only.
- Teach them to eat their food in a clean manner and how not to spill food off their plate.
- Make them put their used bowl or plate in the sink after having a meal, and wash their hands.
- Teach them to put dirty clothes in the laundry bag and always wear clean clothes.
- Discourage children from eating off the floor. This is especially important if there are pets in the house.
- Make your child understand that a bed is only for sleeping. Children tend to do more than just sleep on the bed, which you should be discouraged right from the beginning.
9. Vocal Hygiene
It is important for parents to teach their children about vocal hygiene to help children develop a strong, modulated voice.
Children are in a learning phase and they do not innately know how to talk pleasantly with elders and others. In fact, most children tend to talk a lot, shout, scream and change their voice to imitate someone or sound funny, which should be discouraged by parents.
- To help the vocal chords develop properly, keep your children hydrated. Make your child drink water at regular intervals.
- Do not instill a habit of drinking cold drinks at a tender age.
- Avoid giving small children food or drinks that are too cold, as it can affect the vocal chords.
- Make your child learn to use a consistent tone while having a conversation.
- If your child develops a habit of clearing his throat often, discourage him from doing so.
10. Hair Care
Take good care of your child’s hair to help them enjoy healthy and strong hair now and in the future. Poor hair care in children can cause problems like cradle cap, head lice, dandruff and other scalp infections.
For young children, it is important to wash their hair two or three times per week to keep it free from dirt and grease. Avoid washing their hair too frequently as it can dry out young scalps, making them more prone to dandruff.
When washing your baby’s hair, use appropriate shampoo designed for babies. Also, take precautions to prevent the shampoo from coming in contact with the eyes. Along with shampooing, comb your baby’s hair two or three times a day to keep it tangle-free. Use a wide-toothed comb or a soft-bristle brush.
For older children, make them comb their hair twice daily on their own. Encourage them to keep their hair properly tied or braided.
At the same time, teach your child never to share personal objects like combs, pillows and hats. Also, teach them to avoid head-to-head contact with other kids who may be having a lice infestation.
Once your kid enters puberty, their hair may become greasy and it may be necessary to shampoo their hair every other day.