Children are like clay in a potter’s hands – just as the potter moulds the clay to give it the desired shape, parents too have the responsibility and ability to train their children and teach them good hygiene habits while they are still young.
As a parent, you must make every effort to teach your child the importance of good hygiene as this will help them throughout their lives — to keep healthy and ward-off common illnesses. Maintaining hand hygiene is very important to reduce the spread of bacteria and other germs that stay on hands and transfer to the food that your children eat, thus, contaminating and spreading illnesses.
Cause for concern
It is an accepted fact that children are more susceptible to illnesses and diseases and fall sick more often than adults as their immune systems are not completely developed. Moreover, children spend a lot of time outdoors and in close contact with other children in places like schools, playgrounds, daycare etc., where germs are easily transmitted. As parents, it should be your #1 priority to promote a healthy environment at home by setting a good example yourself and teaching your kids useful hygiene habits early on.
If you are a new parent, it is only natural for you to be overwhelmed when thinking about the responsibilities associated with childcare. Here are a few simple tips that can help you get started:
- Keep your home clean. This will automatically help you in keeping your child’s surroundings clean, thus controlling the spread of infections and germs
- Dirty and unclean hands carry bacteria and germs which can easily pass on to the infant. To avoid this, wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap; rinse and dry with a clean towel before preparing baby bottles or food and after changing diapers, or using the bathroom, or touching your pets
- If your guests come over, make sure that they wash their hands properly before holding the baby as germs can spread through their hands
- From time to time, rinse, wipe and sanitise your baby’s pacifier, furniture, toys, as well as the stroller, crib, mattress etc.,
- After every feed, sterilise milk and water bottle
- Wipe the infant’s mouth and tongue from time to time with a soft cloth dipped in warm water
- Wash fresh fruits and vegetables with cold water
Invest in a comfortable cot which is equipped with a net on top so that the cot can be covered while the baby sleeps inside. This will help to protect the baby against mosquitoes, flies and other insects
- Get some anti-bacterial baby wipes to keep your baby’s hands and feet clean and free from germs.
Note: Do not go overboard in your attempt to maintain hygiene. Keep in mind that many babies have extremely sensitive skin and giving them a bath too many times during the day can aggravate skin problems like eczema. Bathing them once a day is usually enough.
Your responsibility as a parent increases manifold when your baby begins to crawl.
- Always keep an eye and make sure that the child does not crawl and reach dirty or dangerous places such as the bathroom, drain or the garden
- Wipe the floors with disinfectants so that your child does not get germs from the floor
- During teething/dentition, toddlers often tend to pick up things and put them in their mouth. Don’t let them do that. Wash their pacifiers and other toys with clean water every once in a while
- If the child has developed teeth, brush with a soft toothbrush and keep it clean
- After every meal, rinse the kid’s mouth with water
- Grown-ups should refrain from giving the child a bite to eat from their own food as this increases the chances of infection
- Trim your kid’s nails regularly to avoid infection
- Every member of the family must take off their shoes/footwear outside the house as these items carry the maximum amount of dust and germs that spread infection.
Things to Do
- Proper and regular hand washing is, perhaps, the most important way to avoid transmission of infection and germs at home, school, as well as day-care centres
- Inculcate the habit of regular hand wash and bath in your kids from the very beginning. Make it an expectation that should be met at all times
- Teach them to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and playing outdoors with other kids and before meals
- Your child learns from you; so, set a good example by following good hygiene habits yourself
- Choose toys carefully and see that they are clean
- Seepages/plumbing problems should be dealt with immediately as it makes the environment more conducive to the growth of germs
- Before choosing a creche for your child, check to see if cleanliness is being maintained or not.
Clean means Healthy
Every parent knows at least one thing about keeping children clean: it’s not easy. Good hygiene isn’t just about keeping your child presentable, but an active means of preventing the spread of illnesses. It’s as simple as this: a clean child is a healthy child. Proper hygiene is vital for school-age kids because most illnesses are contracted in school where little noses, mouths, and hands spread germs. When taught early on, proper hygiene can lead to a lifetime of cleanliness and good health. And, as your child approaches puberty, the need to maintain good hygiene will become more obvious, when hormonal changes lead to stronger body odour and oilier skin and hair. Don’t wait until then to teach the importance of proper hygiene. Start today with these basic strategies to help your child stay clean and healthy.