Promote kids’ well-being by teaching personal hygiene habits early. Find our top 10 tips to encourage great hygiene practices in your children here.
We all know the importance of establishing healthy hygiene habits in children from an early age. But good hygiene habits involve more than just lathering up for a 20 second handwash here and there. Building healthy routines for children while they’re young can help form strong habits throughout their lives and help you in the long run too!
In our article “10 Tips for Building Healthy, Personal Hygiene Habits with Your Kids” we’ll guide you through our top ways to help children establish strong hygiene routines from the get-go.
What is personal hygiene? From basic handwashing techniques to dental care, bathing and preventing the spreading of germs – we’ll walk you through it all.
Jokes aside, handwashing is an integral part of good personal hygiene and preventing illnesses. Cleaning before and after eating, once done playing outside, after using the bathroom, or after sneezing, coughing and nose blowing are the key moments children should be washing their hands.
Teaching your child the importance of scrubbing with soap for the amount of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice is a good way to start. Applying soap thoroughly before scrubbing palms, fingers, nails and the back of hands for at least 20 seconds is the best way to eliminate germs. And using colourful, child-friendly soap dispensers will motivate your children’s hygiene too!
#2 Dental care
Getting into a routine where your children clean their teeth at least twice a day (once in the morning, once in the evening) for two minutes a time will help prevent a range of issues like bad breath, cavities, and an unplanned trip to the dentist or two.
Oral care for your young one doesn’t have to be difficult or boring either. Using songs, games or fun timing methods will help them memorise their cleaning ritual. And whether it’s flavoured toothpaste or a brush in collab with their favourite cartoon character, allowing them to choose their own dental products can make all the difference in developing cleanliness habits.
Some kids love bath time, some… not so much. But with the right techniques and bathing products, it gets easier! Keeping negative associations away from bath time routines is key.
Avoiding harsh chemicals and fragrances, coupled with tear-free shampoos and sensitive body wash can help children build a great relationship with bath time. Gently washing with a safe water temperature and regularly rinsing soap and shampoo products helps to create a positive atmosphere, without any fear.
#4 Hair care
So, let’s start with the good news. Most young children can get away with washing their hair two or three times a week. The bad news? If they’re encouraged to wash their hair too often, they could dry out their young scalps – causing little flakes of dandruff.
Personal grooming for kids means gradually increasing their own routine responsibility and encouraging age-appropriate hygiene tasks as they do. Tasks such as gently massaging shampoo into their scalp and gently combing out their own damp hair is essential in helping them get to grips with individual hair types and products that might work for them.
#5 Toilet hygiene
For child cleanliness, going to the toilet is a big deal. Your child needs to know that they need to go. They need to be able to let you know. And they need to get to their potty or toilet in time. Not to mention the act of pulling down pants and trousers, sitting on the toilet and wiping safely.
But once young children become comfortably toilet trained, kids hygiene education and cleanliness habits are key in minimising any irritation and keeping infections away. Breaking down the action of wiping from front to back and offering lots of praise after they successfully wipe on their own will help overcome any anxiety of using the toilet at an early age.
#6 Home hygiene
When we’re talking about teaching kids’ hygiene, maintaining a clean environment around the home is high up on the list. Parents and caregivers can help develop hygiene for growing children and youth hygiene habits at the same time, by teaching good practices at a young age.
Educating on simple cleaning routines such as disinfecting surfaces to kill germs and prevent the spread of bacteria, the need to reduce waste, and properly recycle or dispose of rubbish is something that will be carried into adulthood. Teaching them early, will really help in teen life as your children begin to become increasingly independent.
#7 Blowing their nose
Having a cold is rough. But it’s even rougher if you’ve got young children who haven’t yet nailed the art of nose blowing. When your household comes down with something, it can be frustrating for kids suffering with a runny nose, and even more frustrating for parents trying to teach their kid a new skill.
The best way to approach this problem is to teach your children to blow their nose before they get sick. Although this sounds unusual, children are more likely to be enthusiastic about paediatric hygiene when they’re well and can practice the action of blowing their nose, without congestion.
#8 Clothes hygiene
Personal hygiene for kids comes in many forms. And our laundry basket isn’t something we often think twice about. But for children, it’s important they understand how often different types of clothing should be worn without being washed. Socks and underwear washed after every wear, PJs after multiple. And although kids can wear shirts, trousers, and jumpers several times before they’re ready for the laundry pile, if there’s any visible dirt or worn-in smells – it’s time they’re washed too.
For parents and caregivers it’s essential you understand the risks associated with wearing dirty clothes regularly such as skin irritation, bad smells, and infections. Hygiene skills development doesn’t just need to be mastered by children, but adults need to know what to look out for too.
#9 Sleep routine
Let’s get those Zzz’s in! While adults need around 7-9 hours sleep per night, preschoolers (ages 3-5) generally need between 10-13 hours and school-age children (ages 6-13) need between 9-11 hours.
Just like adults, lots of things can affect your child’s quality of sleep. Limiting screentime and avoiding caffeine or sugar at least 1 hour before bed will help to provide a calm, relaxed environment. And developing the same bedtime and wake up time every day (even on weekends) rounds off a predictable series of events for an optimal sleep.
#10 Preventing the spread of germs
As a parent, you know how quickly cold, flu or bugs can spread between children. So, teaching the etiquette of covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and other quick wins can help maintain a healthy household and boost your kids’ hygiene education.
Children’s self-care is vital in good germ preventing habits. Encouraging them to use tissues and dispose of them properly or use the inside of their elbows to catch and contain germs will help develop the right behaviours early on.
On a final note, kids health is a journey.
Don’t be disheartened if your children don’t listen or adapt to your ‘clean and healthy hygiene’ regime right away. Remember the best way to teach any good habit is to instil it in yourself first and lead by example.
Children will quickly imitate what their elders do, so your routine reminders and consistency will be the positive reinforcement and structure they need. You’ve got this!