Posted on 02. November 2016 by
Five top ways to help teach toddlers to wash their hands
Let’s face it, parents... we love them dearly, but we all know toddlers can be some seriously grubby little people. It just comes naturally to them – after all, there are just so many interesting bits to pick up off the ground (not to mention that squishy thing they found under the sofa!) Yes, the nightly bath is a big help, but starting at around 15-18 months old, you will probably also want to start introducing your toddler to the fine art of handwashing.
Why? Not only will it help reduce the level of visible grot, a few good soapy scrubs at key times of the day can help keep your little one healthier. Much healthier – according to data from the CDC, good handwashing habits make kids around 30% less likely to catch common bugs that cause gastrointestinal illness and diarrhea.
The catch is that not all of us know what good handwashing actually looks like. According to the experts, there are five key steps:
- Wet the hands and apply soap.
- Work up a good lather, and make sure it covers the whole hand, including in between the fingers, the backs of the hands, and under the fingernails.
- Keep scrubbing for at least 20 seconds (this is often the hardest part for little ones!)
- Rinse well under clean running water
- Dry hands on a clean towel or using an air dryer.
Simple enough – but it can be much easier said than done with a wriggly, impatient small person! The trick (as with many toddler-related challenges) is to make handwashing a bit more fun. Here are some time-tested strategies that have worked on many a soap-phobic tot:
- Make it easy for them. Toddlers are just like us: If something is too hard, we tend to put it off, and that makes it difficult to form good habits. So think about the situation from your child’s perspective: adding a sturdy step next to the sink will mean they don’t need your help to get scrubbing.
- Make it a fun part of their routine. Having a cute, kid-friendly foaming soap in the loo (we suggest our new Baby Foaming Handwash, which comes in an adorable duck dispenser that kids can’t resist!) This way when you announce it’s time to scrub, hopefully you’ll get cheers instead of whinges!
- Resort to the chart tactic. Some toddlers just adore charts, so it’s worth giving this time-honoured strategy a try. You may not even have to offer any ‘prize’ at the end – many little ones get just as much of a kick at being allowed to tick the boxes one by one!
- Break into song. The 20-second scrubbing rule is a tough one – let’s face it, even most of us adults don’t manage to lather for that long! Having your toddler sing a song whilst they scrub is a great way to make the time pass more quickly... and, as luck would have it, the alphabet song is just about the right length...
- Do it yourself. Children learn best by mirroring us, so the very best way to show your toddler how to wash properly is to do it together. (Bonus: You just might get to skip a few winter sniffles yourself!)
What games or songs do you use to encourage your little one to wash their hands? Let us know in the comments below!