By Brooke Morton, Editorial Contributor
We’ve all done it—leaned in to hold hands with our child, then thought twice. Kids’ hands are breeding grounds for germs, simply because they pick up and touch nearly everything they come in contact with. Then, if they immediately rub their nose or eyes, illness can spread.
But it doesn’t have to.
We can help them build lasting hygiene habits that spare them—and us—from sickness, says Dr. Federico Laham, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Backed by nearly 200 years of experience, handwashing remains the single most effective way to stay healthy.
When to Wash
After visiting the restroom
Before and after eating
After petting animals
After playing outside or spending time in public places like school or the gym
After blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing into their hand
How to Wash
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wash for at least 15 seconds, using bar or gel soap and warm or cold running water. Soap should make contact with both sides of hands, the spaces between fingers and under nails. Rinse, then air or pat dry with a clean towel.
Make It Fun
Ask them to sing the happy birthday song twice while washing to ensure enough time for a proper job.
Look for kid-oriented soaps, such as ones with glitter, which encourage children to wash thoroughly to remove glitter.
Use a handwashing chart with stickers to reinforce the behavior.
Set an Example
Perhaps biggest of all is the example that parents set for kids. The more often they see you wash your hands, the more likely they will learn the value of doing it themselves.
For more advice on coping with everyday issues, check out OrlandoHealthBlog.com