Be health-conscious when preparing an environment for infants and toddlers.
- Remind children and staff to wash hands before meals and snacks. Also, encourage children over 2 to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste after eating.
- Label baby bottles with children's names. Be sure that the formula and expressed milk is dated.
- Keep room temperature between 65 F° and 720 F°, making sure play areas are well-ventilated.
- Change soiled diapers as soon as possible. Place them in covered, lined containers. Record each diaper change to establish a health record for each child. Wash and disinfect the changing table surface with a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water.
- Serve healthy snacks and lunches family-style, including fruits, fresh vegetables, cheeses, milk, and juices. Encouraging children to explore a variety of foods and working with them to "help themselves" sends the message that children can learn to take responsibility for their own nutritional health.
- Discuss the importance of good health practices with toddlers. Keep tissues, paper towels, and soap in places where toddlers can use them independently and practice self-help skills.
This article originally appeared in the October, 2000 issue of Early Childhood Today.