Germ-Proof Your Child
- Have your child wash her hands before meals, after using the bathroom, or whenever she touches other kids, pets, or communal toys. Make sure she scrubs for 20 seconds -- about the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.
- Always keep baby wipes or a sanitizing gel in your diaper bag, your purse, and the car.
- Teach your child to sneeze or cough into a tissue. If he doesn't have one handy, he should use the crook of his elbow.
- Clean toys weekly with hot soapy water or a sanitizing spray.
- If a bottle, sippy cup, or pacifier falls on the floor, always wash it before giving it back to your child. "There's no three-second rule," says Dr. Jennifer Shu. "If it touches the ground, it's dirty."
- Steer clear of toys and books in the waiting room at the doctor's office, which are loaded with germs. Take along your own instead.
- Don't share personal objects with your child -- including utensils, toothbrushes, cups, washcloths, towels, and combs -- and don't let siblings share them either.
Originally published in the November 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
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