When is the right time to teach children about hygiene?

Children Hygiene

Good hygiene starts in the home. Encouraging your child to learn basic hygiene is an important part of life and how to keep their bodies clean.

With the recent rise of COVID-19, practising personal hygiene on a regular basis has never been more important. One thing we know about children is they are experts at getting filthy. They can make a mess of themselves and things around them, from playing outside in mud to wiping spaghetti sauce all over them. They can also pick up bacteria and viruses from school/nursery, friends houses or in the family home.

As parents, we quickly give them a wipe over leaving them squeaky clean. However, when should you teach your child the basics of hygiene? In this post we will run through a few basic hygienes practises you and your child should be using.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is something as adults we can take for granted. Did you know, on average, you can come into contact with 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, exposing you to 840,000+ germs. That is from an adult’s perspective. Now think of young children, they are playing on floors picking up more items than the average adult and therefore come into contact with even more bacteria.

One of the best ways to combat bacteria and viruses is to wash your hands on a regular basis. This goes without saying for our children. Demonstrate the proper way to clean your hands. Explain why it’s important using simple terms: “We wash with soap and water to get rid of dirt and germs that could make us sick.” List the times when your child needs to visit the sink—before eating and after using the potty, blowing his nose, or playing outside. Offer frequent, gentle reminders.

Then take your child through the process. Turn on the water, have them wet their hands, pump the soap dispenser once, and lather up by rubbing together the front and back of their hands and in between their fingers. Sing “Happy Birthday” or another song they know to make sure they wash for at least 20 seconds. Once they have washed their hands show them how to rinse and dry.

To encourage your child to wash their hands use bight coloured soap and give them a round of applause or high five.

The process of handwashing can start from an early age. If you are persistent and encouraging this process, like everything else, will become second nature a part of their daily routine and get them ready for the future.

Coughing and sneezing etiquette

Coughing and sneezing is a bodily function that sometimes we cannot control. Therefore, teaching younger children the correct way in which they should prevent coughs or sneezes will help them from spreading bacteria and viruses as they grow.

As we all know, viruses, including the novel coronavirus, are spread through coughing and sneezing. A show-and-tell route is the best strategy for teaching your child these hygiene habits. Demonstrate what to do when you sneeze yourself. Explain to them that they should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing if they are available.

You should then show encourage your child to throw the tissue away and wash their hands as previously mentioned.

You can also model how to wipe a runny nose and cough into your elbow or sleeve. A sneeze or cough can send water droplets speeding through the air at a rate of 30-yards per second. Larger particles typically drop out of the air in a matter of seconds and can land up to six feet away.

Children from the age of 2 start to understand the use of tissues. They will also simulate what they see their parents/guardians do, so make sure your hygiene is at a high standard if you want to succeed.

Closing the toilet lid when flushing

We have two words for you: Toilet Plumes. You may or may not have heard about clouds of bacteria leaving your toilet when you flush and thought what a load of nonsense. Well, this is where you are wrong. A toilet plume is the dispersal of microscopic particles as a result of flushing a toilet.

Want to find out more about Toilet Plumes? Click here What are toilet plumes: Why should you flush the toilet with the lid down?

Toddlers will mainly use a potty, therefore will not have to flush. However, during potty training, it is still a good idea to get your child used to closing the lid on the toilet before it is flushed. Older children will find it a lot easier t understand and eventually it will become second nature.

However, there is a downfall for children that attend school. School toilets do not always have lids on them. This is due to health and safety and children getting their fingers trapped between the seat and the lid.

This does need to change as a lot of school illnesses are contracted from the washroom. This is could be due to the lack of toilet lids and poor hygiene skills from other children.


Matt Neale

Matt has been working in marketing and IT for Hygienic Concepts since 2017 after studying for a degree in Business BA (Hons) at Birmingham City University. Matt has recently discovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a weekly habit. You can read more of Matt’s work on the Hygienic Concepts blog page.