Teaching children as they grow is a very engaging and challenging process. Those tiny little hands are always reaching out for everything they can grab and this may not always be a good sign. Some of the things that they come in contact with like mud, door handles and food from outside can be unhygienic and could pose problems in the form of transmittable diseases.
Inculcating healthy habits from a young age is important to ensure that your children remain safe and healthy.
Why is Personal Hygiene Important for Kids?
Following proper health and hygiene practices for and by children is extremely crucial and helps in keeping germs and diseases at a bay. Whenever they touch dusty areas, deadly microorganisms can transfer onto their hands, food and eventually into their stomach and cause diseases.
Certain habits can be practised as a foundation to ensure health and hygiene for kids. The best way to get your child to understand this is by teaching them ways to practice from an early stage. Read about some common practices that help in inculcating the best personal hygiene practices in children:
13 Best Healthy Personal Hygiene Habits for Children
1. Food Hygiene for Kids
Unhealthy food habits can cause food poisoning and lead to conditions like diarrhoea, vomiting, or stomach pains. As a parent, you need to ensure hygiene is intact when preparing, serving, or feeding food to your child.
When teaching your child about food hygiene, start with the basics and tell him/her about the germs and bacteria that cause diseases. Let them understand how these can infect their bodies and spread from their hands to their food and into their bodies.
- Washing hands: Make sure your child knows how to wash his/her hands thoroughly with soap before and after eating and also provide them with a clean wiping cloth to wipe their hands. The cloth should be washed/changed frequently.
- Food Storage: Healthy food habits also include proper storage. Teach your child how to segregate and store food in the refrigerator and also tell them about the ones that can be left outside. Don’t leave any food uncovered and also keep the lids clean to avoid contracting bacteria.
- Cooking Food: If you’re the one doing most of the cooking, make it a habit to follow proper hygiene practices.
- Always use an apron and tie your hair.
- Roll your sleeves up to avoid having grease or stains on your clothes.
- Don’t cough or sneeze into the food, always turn away whenever you have to so as to avoid the food from getting contaminated with germs. Sanitize/wash your hands thoroughly before touching the food again.
2. Hand Hygiene for Kids
Washing hands frequently can reduce the chances of contracting diseases such as diarrhoea. The simplest way to practise hand hygiene is by teaching your child how to wash hands thoroughly. Show your child a step by step demonstration on how to wash hands and ensure they get all the steps right.
- Wet your hands with water.
- Apply soap to your hands and rub to form a lather.
- Make sure that your child cleans even in between the fingers and under the nails.
- Wash the soap away entirely with clean water.
A good hygiene for kids includes keeping his/her hands clean at all times. Let your child form a habit of washing their hands every time they:
- Use the bathroom
- Play outside
- Clean the house
- Touch an animal
- Meet a sick friend
- Sneeze or a cough
- Before and after eating their food
3. Sleep Hygiene for Children
Sleep is extremely important for children and adults alike as the body uses this time to regenerate its cells and record memories. Sleep hygiene includes everything that helps your child get a good night’s sleep. It helps you create an ‘awake during the day and resting during the night’ pattern for your child to fit in enough sleep at night so they can remain active during the day. You can also teach them the importance of sleep to get them more interested in learning its benefits.
As growing children, they will need to rest for at least 10 hours in a day. Following are a few ways in which you can inculcate good sleeping habits in your child:
- Avoid letting your child fall asleep at odd hours during the day so that they sleep well at night.
- The bed should only be used for sleeping and not for watching TV or doing homework.
- Create a relaxed environment. You can have dim lights that let your child rest. You can also try singing a lullaby.
- Keep gadgets and alarms away from children to avoid waking them.
- Put your child to bed every day at a fixed time.
4. Vocal Hygiene for Children
These are a set of methods you and your child can use to help him/her get a modulated voice. Most children can develop a habit of shouting a lot. If they aren’t given attention and are ignored; your child’s vocal cords can experience excessive stress and get damaged.
- Keep your child hydrated and give him/her enough water to drink every day.
- Avoid giving them cold drinks or ice creams.
- Encourage your child to speak in one tone during a conversation.
- Kids can sometimes clear their throat, affecting the way they sound. Always discourage them from doing so.
- Keep them from shouting or whispering too much.
5. Oral Hygiene
It is also important that you take care of your child’s mouth and teeth. Without proper care, your child can develop cavities, bad breath, and other oral diseases. Although baby teeth fall out eventually, they play a major role in aiding in eating and in speech development. So, here are some ways you can keep your child’s teeth healthy:
- Make sure that your child brushes at least two times a day.
- Always use a child’s toothbrush as they’re smaller and also soft on the developing gums of your child.
- In the first 12 months, only wipe the child’s gums with a clean cloth. When the first set of teeth appear, wipe the surface gently with a toothbrush and some water.
- Let your child start using toothpaste when they are around two years old.
- Sweet food shouldn’t be left to linger around the teeth for too long as it can cause cavities.
- If the child has wiggly teeth by the age of 6, let him/her wiggle the tooth so that it falls off without much pain or bleeding.
6. Dental Hygiene
You know that it is important to brush your child’s teeth to keep them healthy. But few know the right way of brushing their teeth. Here are some ways you can keep your child’s teeth healthy. In the beginning, brush their teeth with this method yourself and slowly teach them the right way to do it.
- Keep the brush angled at 45 degrees to your child’s gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently.
- Brush all the surfaces of your child’s teeth (outer, inner and chewing areas).
- To clean the inner surface thoroughly, you can hold the brush vertically and move it up and down.
- Brush the tongue to remove any bacteria.
You can also include the usage of a dental floss to ensure that your child stays away from cavities.
- Take about 18 inches of floss and wrap both ends of it on either of your middle fingers.
- Hold the floss between your thumb and forefingers and insert the floss inside your child’s teeth.
- While holding the floss in a C-shape, gently rub the floss while keeping it pressed against the tooth.
- Make sure that you floss all the teeth and get the jaw teeth too.
7. Kids’ Hair Care
Poor hair hygiene in your child can cause problems like dandruff, lice, and other infections in the scalp. Your child can get these when playing with his/her friends in the playground or even contract it from another child in his surrounding. To avoid these infections, your child should be taught to take care of his/her hair and scalp.
- Wash your child’s hair at least two times in a week to keep the hair grease and dirt free.
- Assist your child on how to wash the scalp thoroughly with shampoo and rinse with water.
- If your child has head lice, make sure you treat it immediately.
- If your child has long hair, encourage her to keep the hair tied up mostly to avoid them from getting dirty.
- Teach your child to avoid sharing his/her comb, pillow, and hats too with other children.
8. Nail Hygiene
Children’s nails accumulate a lot of dirt and microbes as they often play outside and in the sand, mud or simply dirty grounds Children and adults alike use their limbs extensively which causes nails to get injured or contaminated.
- Kids tend to bite their nails. Discourage them from doing so as they can end up ingesting the microbes present under their nails.
- Cut your child’s nails frequently.
- Teach your child to scrub and wash under his/her nails thoroughly to ensure that they are clean at all times.
- Help your child to wash his/her hands after every time they pet an animal, play outside, cough or sneeze, and before and after eating.
- Also pay attention to your child’s toe nails, and cut them regularly.
9. Bathing Hygiene
The best way to keep your child clean and healthy at all times is by giving them a bath regularly. Some bath hygiene habits include,
- Teach your child to bathe twice in a day- before they go to school and after they come back.
- Encourage him/her to scrub the different parts of the body like the armpits, groin, legs, and feet.
- Ensure that they apply soap every time they take a shower.
- Keep an eye to see that your child takes extra care when cleaning his/her face as the skin is more delicate here.
10. Foot Hygiene
When bacteria acts along with sweat on your child’s feet, they can get smelly. This happens if your child wears shoes all day, especially without socks. This causes a lot of dirt and bacteria to get accumulated on your child’s feet. Some personal hygiene habits for kids can help keep these smelly feet away:
- Ensure that your child washes his/her feet every time they take a bath.
- Keep the feet clean by scrubbing them properly with soap and rinsing off with water properly.
- Always clean in between the toes, on the underside of the foot, and also under the toenails to keep microbes away.
- Teach your child to keep his/her footwear clean to avoid contracting germs.
- Use a moisturiser to keep the feet soft at all times.
11. Toileting Hygiene
The bathroom or the toilet is one of the places in the house that contain the maximum germs. As long as you keep the bathroom clean and teach your child the right toileting hygiene, you can avoid all bathroom borne diseases.
- Teach your child to wipe or wash after every time they go potty.
- Teach them how to flush on their own.
- Remind them to wash their hands every time they use the bathroom.
- A good way to help them learn is by staying with them and guiding them through the whole process. Also, have your child look at the wipe every time they wipe after potty.
12. Coughing and Sneezing Hygiene
You can’t always protect your child, and a few illnesses here and there can actually help improve immunity; so there is an upside to illnesses too. Sometimes your child can get infected with a common cough or a cold.
- Prevent your child from spreading infections by teaching him/her how to sneeze or cough by covering their mouth.
- Also, instead of using their hands, encourage your kids to use their sleeve or elbow instead. This avoids the spreading of the germs from their hands.
- Whenever they do use their sleeve, praise them subtly like “I saw that you used your sleeve. Thank you for doing that”. This will let them remember to do this again in the future.
13. Home Hygiene
Apart from all types of hygiene mentioned above, your child should also follow some hygiene at home as this can also build up as your child’s etiquette.
- Teach your child to wear clean clothes every day. If your child likes a particular dress, teach him/her to wear it only when it is clean.
- Inculcate the habit of cleanliness.
- Teach them to pick up their dish after eating and put it in the sink and also wash their hands after.
- If your child spills something in the house, teach them to clean it. If they’re too young to do so, help them clean it.
Tips to Teach Your Kids Personal Hygiene
You can’t teach your child all of the child hygiene habits mentioned above overnight. Teaching personal hygiene habits to kids will require patience. Some accidents might happen here and there, but avoid scolding your child as they are still learning. Here are some tips to follow when teaching your child about hygiene:
- Explain the difference: Start by explaining about all the good and bad habits. You can start with something your child already knows.
- Tell them the reason: Make them understand why they should maintain good hygiene and the reason behind why something is good or bad.
- Praise and encourage: Praise them when they do something good. It can be as simple as washing their hands or sneezing into their sleeve.
- Start with the basics: Have your child wash their hands first and then move onto bigger things like brushing, bathing, food hygiene, etc.
- Set an example: Children learn by looking at you, so give them a demonstration. Show them the right way to do something so that they learn faster.
- Educate them: Tell them about the different kinds of germs and microbes that cause diseases. Tell them about the things that happen if they get these germs in their bodies.
- Make the learning more fun for them: This way they can remember better. Try including games and other fun activities whenever you teach them about hygiene.
Several times you might have to leave your child or be too busy to monitor them. Teaching your child about hygiene can help them take care of themselves even when you’re not with them.