This “ultimate guide to hygiene for children” offers tips for stopping the spreading of germs, while looking better and smelling better for the people around them. Parents are tasked with a lot of duties, and it’s easy to forget while protecting and nurturing your child, while getting them ready for school and other activities, that you should be teaching them good habits to last a lifetime. This list of ideas should serve as a reminder.
The suggestions below should help you prevent disease through hygienic activities like hand washing, foot washing, cutting fingernails, toenails, and mastering good dental hygiene habits. Besides offering you a substantial list of tips and suggestions, I’ll also include links to more advice and resources for moms and dads who want to teach their young ones proper grooming habits.
Stop the Spread of Germs
Teach your kids at an early age how to stop the spread of germs. This means teaching children to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing. Also teach your child to
wash their hands before meals and after trips to the restroom. You’ll have to remind them to do this often, but that’s better than having them get sick because of poor hygiene.
- Don’t cough into your hands.
- Don’t sneeze into your hands.
- Don’t put fingers into your mouth.
- Don’t put fingers into your nose.
- Don’t put fingers into your eyes.
- Wash your hands any time they’re dirty.
Hand Washing Tips
Keeping your hands free from germs is the key to limiting disease spread in your home and life. When you teach your kids to wash their hands, you’re teaching them how to stay healthy throughout the year, especially the sick season. Children have a lot on their minds, though, and this is easier said than done. So you might have to coax them into good hand washing habits.
Make Hand Washing Fun for Your Kids
Add a piece of soap shaped like your child’s favorite tv character or movie hero. You can also buy washcloths and hand towels with prints of these characters, too. I’ve seen hand washing sing-along songs.
Another hygiene tip for kid cleaning is scented soap that attracts their senses, or a soap that has a lot of bubble action. Find some way to
make soaping up a fun activity or at least one your child doesn’t hate. Soft, fluffy towels are fun to dry off with, while they’re also warm in
cold weather months.
Feet Washing Suggestions
Teaching a youth to wash their feet daily starts them off in life with good habits, so they don’t go through their adult life with smelly,
itching feet. Many adults don’t remember to wash their feet properly, so it’s no surprise kids don’t do the same. These problems
begin in childhood, so here are some foot washing tips.
- Stop Stinky Feet
- Always Dry Footwear
- Wear Socks
- Watch for Infections
- Scrub Between Toes
- Talk about Body Odor
The advice above matters most when kids hit puberty, but are habits best taught early on. Remind them anytime you notice they
have stinky feet of the other five tips. Sweaty footwear leads to stinky feet and foot infections, so teach them to dry out their
shoes after they get sweaty. This involves pulling out the insoles and letting the shoes dry out properly. Many kids get in the bad habit of not wearing any socks with closed-toe shoes. This is a problem even before puberty, but gets worse as their bodies begin to change and body odor becomes an even bigger concern. Never let you child get in the habit of wearing shoes without socks, because this is a nasty habit that is only
going to cause them problems throughout life. Rampant body odor.
Remind your children to wash their feet with a washcloth and scrub between their toes where fungus can grow, causing infections, skin irritation, cracked skin, and smelliness. Teach them how to look for the redness and cracking that is a sign of fungal infections. Remind them about body odor regularly, so they are aware of one of the main reasons for good hygiene.
Cutting Fingernails and Toenails
Cutting toenails is a major part of foot care, because poor toenail care causes problems ranging from smelly feet to ingrown toenails. Keep toenail clippers in a central location and remind them to sterilize clippers before and after using them. In many ways, though, toenail care is actually easier to teach than fingernail care. Even for the most dexterous adult, cutting the fingernails on your favored hand are hard, because you’re doing fine clipping with your off-hand. That’s even more of a problem for younger kids, who tend to have even less dexterity. Add to that their natural inclination to put their hands in their mouths when nervous, and perhaps even biting their nails, and poor fingernail hygiene becomes a particularly troublesome habit.
At early ages when you’re still clipping your child’s fingernails, maintain calmness and patience, even when they don’t. If you make the experience unpleasant for them, it creates a lifetime of negative associations with fingernail hygiene. If anything, be too pleasant when clipping their fingernails, doing your best to keep them entertained and distracted. Give them something to look at, watch, or listen to while you’re clipping.
Happy memories lead to better habits.
Guide to Hair Cuts
Hair cuts and hair hygiene are important to teach, too. You’ll want to teach kids that hair is important, and washing hair is important.
Get them into the habit of a daily wash and this gives them good hairdressing habits for their teen years, when oily hair leads to (even worse) acne. Make hair care fun for your child. Also, associate hair care with you early on. When you are preparing a child for their first haircut, take them with you when you get a haircut or styling. When he or she sees you sitting in the styling chair or barber’s seat, they’ll naturally want to emulate what you’re doing. If the timing doesn’t work out, take them by the hair salon or barber shop the day before they get their hair cut, so they see
there’s nothing to be afraid about.
Find a cosmetologist with lots of experience working with small children, so they have good child skills. Bring a treat and perhaps even an extra shirt, in case they freak out when they try to put the cutting apron on them. Talk about the haircut beforehand, but use words like “trim” and “style” instead of cut, because “cut” probably has a negative meaning to your child. Bring along a camera to record the event for the rest of the family (and reassure your child this is fun time), but put away the camera the moment it seems to add to any nerves. Finally, remember to save the first lock of hair.
Dental Hygiene and Bad Breath Advice
Brushing teeth multiple times a day is important for children, while flossing is an important technique for fighting bad breath throughout life. It’s hard enough to get kids in the habit of brushing regularly, so you can imagine how the idea of flossing is going to be received.
There are ways to make brushing less of a chore for your child. Using a toothbrush with their favorite characters on it is a help, while using flavored toothpaste in the early years is often the only way to get them brushing. While you might enjoy the minty taste of fresh breath, many children seem to despise the very notion of mint toothpaste. Do your best to get your children in the habit of brushing their teeth after every meal, and especially before bedtime. You might not want to sound like Old Mr. Crabapple or Mrs. Crabapple when it comes to these habits, but someone has to be the adult in the relationship. You’re doing them a favor teaching them good dental hygiene.
Dental Flossing Tips
Flossing can be an even tougher sell, because you’ll have to floss for them until they are 8 or 9 years old (on average). Flossing can be uncomfortable at times even when doing it to yourself, so if you aren’t gentle, your child is going to consider the nightly floss session torture–and in a way, it might be. Remember to let them see you flossing. This not only creates a sense that it’s something their role model does, but they also learn proper flossing technique by watching you floss. Try to give them instructions for how you floss your teeth, to supplement what they see.
More Tips for Child Hygiene
To learn more about teaching good health tips and habits to your kids, click on the links found through this guide to hygiene for kids. You’ll find a few alternate suggestions on each of these subjects, in case the tips I’ve given you hit a snag and you need a Plan B. You know what your kids don’t
know: teaching your children proper hygiene gives them to better health, better self-esteem, and better social environment throughout
their coming life.