Hygiene Basics for Kids

The Hands Have It

When it comes to germs, nothing spreads them faster than our two hands. Emphasize the importance of hand washing for everyone in the family -- particularly for your kids who think nothing of sneezing into their hands, then reaching into the cookie jar.

Hands should be washed:

  • Before every meal or snack
  • Before and after handling or preparing food
  • Before caring for a toddler or infant
  • After coming in from outside
  • After using the bathroom
  • After playing with the family pet
  • After changing the cat litter or cleaning a pet cage
  • After sneezing or blowing the nose (when possible)
  • After taking out the trash

It's All About Technique

Forget the hand sanitizers or those antibacterial soaps for beating germs (you don't want to kill all germs; some are beneficial and necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system). A good old-fashioned hand washing with plain soap and warm water will do the trick. Hands should be thoroughly lathered, rubbed, and rinsed for at least 15 seconds (one verse of the "Happy Birthday" song is a good measure), then thoroughly dried on a clean, dry towel. Paper towels are your best bet, so install a roll in the bathroom today.

Also teach your child to keep his hands out of his mouth and nose. Nail biting and nose picking are not only unsightly, they're also very unsanitary.

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