Teaching your children about the importance of clean hands is essential as a parent. Not only does handwashing prevent the spread of germs and illness, but it also promotes good hygiene habits that will last a lifetime.
This December, we’re celebrating National Handwashing Awareness Week, the perfect time to discuss the importance of handwashing. In this blog, we’ll go over the proper way to wash hands, when to wash your hands, what to do if there’s no soap and water available, and how to encourage good handwashing hygiene in children.
Why Is Handwashing Important?
Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings, often putting their hands in their mouths or touching their faces. It means that they are at a higher risk of coming into contact with bacteria and germs. By teaching your children to wash their hands frequently, you can help reduce the chances of them getting sick.
Handwashing is a simple but effective way to prevent the spread of illness and infection. It’s especially important for children, who are more prone to getting sick and may not fully develop immune systems.
Here are some potential risks children face if they do not wash their hands:
- Catching and spreading infections, such as colds, flu, and stomach viruses and other foodborne illnesses
- Getting sick from eating food that may have been contaminated by dirty hands
- Developing skin infections or irritations due to exposure to dirt and germs on the hands
- Exposure to allergies or asthma due to exposure to allergens on the hands (pollen, pet dander, dust)
- Higher risk of developing conditions such as eczema or dermatitis due to dry, chapped skin caused by not washing hands regularly
- Not washing hands can lead to poor hygiene overall. Children may be more likely to skip other hygiene habits, such as brushing their teeth or showering regularly, if they do not see the importance of hand washing.
The Proper Way to Wash Hands
Washing hands correctly is vital to effectively remove germs and prevent the spread of illness. Teach your child the proper way to wash hands with the following steps:
- Get your hands wet with warm or cold clean water.
- Put some soap on your hands and rub them together to lather. Wash your hands from back to front, under your nails, and between your fingers.
- Give your hands a good scrub for at least 20 seconds, or do the “Happy Birthday” song twice from beginning to end for good measure.
- Under running water, thoroughly rinse your hands.
- To dry your hands, use a clean towel or let them air dry.
What if There’s No Soap and Water Available?
If soap and water are unavailable, your child can use a hand sanitizer as an alternative. Hand sanitizer is a liquid, gel, or foam that contains alcohol, which helps to remove germs and prevent the spread of illness effectively. Follow these steps when teaching your child to use hand sanitizer:
- On the palm of your hand, dab a small amount (about pea size) of hand sanitizer.
- Rub your hands together, making sure to cover the entire surface of your hands, including under your nails, between your fingers, and on the backs of your hands.
- You should rub your hands together for around 20 seconds until they feel dry.
When to Wash Your Hands
Children should wash their hands frequently throughout the day, especially if they’ve been in a public place where they may have come into contact with germs. Here are some specific times when children should be encouraged to wash their hands: Before and after eating food
- After play
- After touching a cut or wound
- Before and after caring for a sick family member
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling animals or animal waste
- After touching garbage
How to Encourage Good Hand Washing Hygiene
Children can be a little difficult to convince when washing their hands. In order to encourage children to wash their hands properly, here are a few tips:
- Make it fun: Your child will be more likely to wash their hands if they find it enjoyable. Try singing a fun handwashing song or using a scented hand soap to make handwashing more appealing.
- Set a good example: Children often mimic their parent’s behavior, so it is vital to set a good example by washing your own hands frequently.
- Make it easy: Hand washing stations must be easily accessible and stocked with soap, towels, and water. It will make it easier for children to wash their hands whenever necessary.
- Remind them: Children are forgetful, so it is important to remind them to wash their hands frequently. Post a handwashing reminder in a visible place or set a timer to remind them to wash their hands.
- Use visuals: Let them watch animation or clips on why handwashing is essential. You can also post hand-cleaning signs in your bathroom to serve as a reminder.
- Give praise when deserved: If your child does wash their hands on their initiative, let them know how proud you are!
Clean Hands for Good Health!
By teaching our children the importance of washing their hands frequently and properly, we can help create a healthy and hygienic environment for them to grow and thrive. Parents and caregivers should model good handwashing habits and make it a part of their daily routine.
With a little effort, we can all play a part in keeping our children healthy and happy!
When searching for “pediatricians near me” for quality health care for your children, please do not hesitate to contact our pediatric clinic! Learn more about our healthcare team today at Children’s Medical Centers of Fresno.
For wellness and sick visits, call (559) 455-1500 or visit our main page to book an appointment online. We also offer telemedicine!