Health and nutrition for young children: Hand washing

Help young children develop this habit by setting an example and doing it with them.

According to “Nibbles for Health: Nutrition Newsletters for Parents of Young Children,” the best way to teach children good hand-washing habits is for adults to practice the habits themselves. It is ineffective to just tell little children to go was their hands; parents and caregivers should be with children to demonstrate good hand washing. You can encourage your child to count slowly to 30 or sing the alphabet song. This can help to make hand washing fun and long enough. Have a safe stepping stool, so your child can reach the soap and faucet. You could hang a hand washing reminder by the toilet.

Remind children to wash their hands before:

  • They handle food or eat a meal or snack

Also remind them to wash their hands after:

  • Handling food
  • Using the bathroom
  • Touching a pet
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Combing hair
  • Blowing their nose
  • Anytime the hands get dirty

Clean hands works to prevent the spread of colds or flus. It’s easy to contaminate food and common surfaces with germs from dirty hands. The importance of washing our hands along with the child is to emphasize the correct way to getting the hands clean. We need to get the hands wet, add soap and wash for 30 seconds from top to the bottom, in-between the fingers, under the nails and include the wrist. Then we can have a healthier home!

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