Hygiene Habits for Kids
Good Hygiene Habits Start Early
There’s more to hygiene than hand washing, though that’s a good start. Setting up a routine of healthy hygiene when your kids are young can create habits that last throughout their lives. Use our head to toenails guide and create good hygiene habits for your kids.
Most younger children can get away with washing their hair two or three times a week. In fact, washing hair too often can dry out young scalps, making them more prone to dandruff. As kids enter their tweens and teens, the hormonal effects of puberty take hold, making their hair greasy and a good shampooing at least every other day necessary.
Young children either love the bath or hate it. On non-shampoo days, you can make a thorough bath into a fun game. Have your child put on their bathing suit and plop them into the tub with a washcloth, a bowl of warm soapy water, and a bowl of warm rinse water. Make sure they know that the washcloth goes into the soapy water before scrubbing a body part then into the rinse water before repeating.
Toddlers and preschoolers still need parents to help them with skin care, as rashes, bumps, and scabs are par for the course at this age. Before your child gets dressed after their bath, help them look over their skin from head to toe to make sure there aren’t any new blemishes that need tending to.
Skin Care for Teens
Like their hair, teenagers’ skin becomes oilier with puberty. There are a number of acne-reducing medications on the market, but the benefits of simply washing with water and mild soap are sometimes overlooked. Teach your teen to wash their face two to three times a day and avoid picking at pimples.
Clean teeth and gums can prevent everything from bad breath to cavities to heart disease later in life. Your child should be brushing and flossing at least twice a day, if not after every meal. Older children can carry tooth-brushing kits in their backpacks to brush at school. Younger children can participate in their oral hygiene by helping you time the full two minutes a good brushing requires.
Washing underarms and wearing deodorant is a rite of passage many tweens and teens not only hate but ignore. Sweat starts to become body odor around the ages of nine or ten. Talk to your child about the importance of washing under their arms especially after sports practice. Depending on how heavily your child sweats, you may want to choose an antiperspirant, not just a deodorant. Deodorant controls bacteria and adds scent, while an antiperspirant also helps to minimize sweating.
Hand washing is an integral piece of good hygiene. Washing before and after meals, after playing in the dirt, or with pets, and after being in contact with someone who is sick is the best way to eliminate germs. Remember to let your child know the importance of scrubbing with soap for the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
Fingernails are a breeding ground for bacteria. The germs that live under your child’s nails are easily transferred to their eyes, nose, and mouth. Invest in a good nail brush and help your child scrub the dirt out from under their nails before bedtime. A weekly clipping will help get rid of dirt and reduce the possibility of painful ingrown nails.
Once young children become toilet-trained, you’ll need to focus on the habits that keep little parts clean. Teach them to wipe thoroughly from front to back and wash their hands when they’re done. These healthy habits will help minimize irritation and keep infections at bay.
Just for Girls
Once girls start wearing makeup and begin menstruating, there are some hygiene habits specific to their needs. Encourage your daughter to keep a chart of her cycle, so she won’t get caught without feminine hygiene products. As for the makeup, make sure she knows sharing can spread infection and that going to sleep with her makeup on can wreak havoc on her skin.