Researchers say children as young as 3 years old can understand the importance and techniques of proper hand washing. Clean hands can prevent infections, and children, who are often touching their eyes, nose and mouth, can never learn good personal hygiene too soon. In fact, every aspect of personal hygiene is paramount to your child's good health. By associating fun activities with cleanliness, your children can develop routines that lead to good personal hygiene habits that will remain with them for a lifetime.
Sing yourself clean
A good place to start when teaching children about oral hygiene is their teeth. Experts say children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. And by the time they are a preteen, children should be brushing their teeth three times per day. To better help prevent cavities, they should also brush within 20 minutes after having a sugary snack.
To make this fun, sing the "Brushing Your Teeth" song by Barney every time they brush. This song and others, like "Splashin In The Bath," can be found on the Barney Sleepy Time Songs CD (see References for link). Not only is the tune catchy, but the lyrics teach your child about the importance of brushing their teeth--such as where to brush and why, with some good advice about not wasting water thrown in there, too!
Don't forget to floss! Until your child has sufficient motor skills, they may need your help. Using a fluoride rinse is a good idea, especially for a child who is cavity-prone. You can hum the Barney song while rinsing with mouthwash.
In addition to a healthy mouth, clean hands go a long way. Washing your hands can prevent the spread of infection. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps to stopping the spread of infection.
A trick to go along with this is to have children sing the ABC song or rehearse a nursery rhyme, such as "There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe" while washing their hands. This will help prolong the process to 20 seconds, which is how long it takes to kill most of the germs. Encourage your children to rub their hands together, as this helps to loosen the germs so the water can wash them away and to wash under the nails and in between fingers. Consider investing in foam pump hand soap for children made by Softsoap and monogrammed towels for your children to complete the routine.
Bath time doesn't have to be a tug of war between you and your child, especially since children need to be bathed at least every other day. One way to make this experience more pleasant for all involved, according to www.Clorox.com, is to designate special "bath toys" to only be used during bath time, such as plastic boats. You might further involve your child in the process by allowing him to go to the store and select those toys.
Designate a bath time, so the child gets used to some routine. For instance, a night bath might help them to relax at the end of the day. Try reading your child their favourite book when the bath is drawing to a close or after the bath, which again, will encourage a routine. And if junior is too big for a bath, consider a kid-safe shower head. These are adjustable and come in a variety of animal shapes.