July 02, 2015

Q: When can my toddler wash his hands?

A: Most toddlers can wet, soap, rinse, and dry their hands by about 18 to 24 months. But you should always be there to check the water temperature and make sure your child scrubs thoroughly (proper hand washing is the best way to derail germs). Place a stool next to the sink and leave some fun soap and a towel within reach. Teach your child how to turn the water to cold or lukewarm. Since experts recommend washing hands for 30 seconds to completely kill germs, sing a short song with your child, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," to keep her occupied. Some child-friendly soap dispensers even come with lights and sounds that turn off once 30 seconds are up. --Elizabeth Rusch

Copyright 2005. Reprinted with permission from the August 2005 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009

Answered by Parents Team