Because small children are natural, effective, and indiscriminate germ-spreaders, keeping them healthy requires diligence. The single most important disease-prevention strategy is handwashing. Not fingertip washing, but whole-hand washing, back and front. Germs and viruses like all the hiding places on our hands — between fingers, under nails, and around cuticles. Model frequent, thorough handwashing. The following suggestions will help you teach your child to take an active role in preventing the spread of germs.
- Read the book Germs Make Me Sick to help reinforce the importance of handwashing. Or, share this instructional printable on handwashing, which reviews the five steps involved in cleaning hands.
- Make sure handwashing supplies are easily accessible: clean towels; liquid soap, somewhat diluted for easy sudsing and rinsing; and nonallergenic hand lotion, to keep skin moisturized so it's less likely to crack and harbor germs.
- Make tissues readily available for runny noses and sneezing. Encourage your child to use his upper arm to catch coughs, rather than his hands, and to wash his hands after using tissues.
- Wash toys together periodically. Place plastic and wooden toys in the kitchen sink or bathtub and have a good time cleaning them off.