TEACHING TODDLERS ABOUT HYGIENE : THE FIRST STEPS
One thing toddlers are remarkably good at is getting filthy, whether it is from playing, eating or wiping their noses without tissue.
A little mess is good but instilling good healthy habits early will keep them healthy and get them ready for top Schools in Sector 50 Gurgaon, or any other location. Some basic habits, instilled early, can make a big difference……..
HAND WASHING: One of the best and simplest habits to keep your toddler healthy is by demonstrating the proper way to clean his/ her hands. Explain why it is important in very simple terms ‘we wash with soap and water to get rid of dirt and germs that could make us sick.’ List the number of times they need to visit the sink – before eating, after visiting the potty, after blowing their nose, after playing outside and offer frequent reminders.
Take them through the process by making it a fun activity, turn on the water (cold to be safe),wet their hands, pump the soap out of the dispenser once, lather by rubbing hands back , front and between the fingers ( hum a familiar song) at least for 20 seconds long. When done show them how to rinse and dry. You can make it appealing by using bright colored or fruit flavored soap and give a ‘ high five’ for effort !
BATHING: Your toddler will not be able to scrub in the bath tub for a long time, but they are capable of learning the basics. Focus on the fact that taking a bath is a fun way to get clean and narrate what you are doing ‘ Mommy is putting soap on a wash cloth to rub your tummy’ then encourage them to copy. Have them wash a doll’s hair and see if they can handle one step on their own. For rinsing out the dolls hair ask her to lean her head back and close her eyes. Having your toddler take an active role in these tasks makes them feel empowered and will encourage them to do even more when their motor skills develop further.
COUGHING & SNEEZING ETIQUETTE: Show and tell is the best strategy for teaching your child these skills. Demonstrate what to do when you sneeze yourself ‘see how I put a tissue over my nose and mouth so I don’t spread germs’. You can also model how to wipe a runny nose and cough into your elbow or sleeve. Teach your toddler to blow his nose by keeping one nostril closed and exhaling through the other. It is not easy for a 1 year old to know when he is about to sneeze or cough. If it is too late say ‘you almost caught that sneeze. Nice try. I bet you will get it right next time round’. Toddlers are more in touch with their body cues by age 2 years, so keep working on it. You may wish to practice proper hygiene with a stuffed animal friend who has a cold!
TOOTH BRUSHING: The next time your toddler reaches for his toothbrush don’t pull it away, let him try it out. Though they need your help with dental hygiene until around 6 years getting him comfortable will make him a pro by then. Since your toddler will not understand cavities you can just say ‘we brush our teeth so they look and feel good’. Take them through each step as you wet the brush, squeeze a thin line of toothpaste onto it , clean his teeth and tongue and show him how to rinse his mouth and spit. Let him test drive it a few times. Let him choose his own child safe toothpaste and make up some brushy songs to encourage him.
These tips will stand you in good stead of making your child a soldier in hygiene, contribute to his own well being, and get ready before stepping into one of the top international schools in Gurgaon!