Proper hygiene for children begins at the moment of birth when their tiny bodies are scooped up in a towel or wrap and the protective coating from the womb is gently cleaned away. As a child grows, he can begin to learn personal hygiene with a little assistance from his parents. Developing good hygiene skills in childhood can set the stage for cleanliness habits as an adult.
Taking a daily bath or shower helps remove bacteria from the body. A child should pay special attention to her armpits, face, genitals and feet, advises Parents.com. Scrub under the fingernails and toenails to remove any debris. The outer ear and behind the ear should be gently cleansed as well. A child should learn to thoroughly dry his feet, especially between the toes where bacteria tends to collect, advises the Children’s Youth and Women’s Health Service or CYWHS.
Shampooing regularly and massaging the scalp will clear away dirt, oil and dead skin cells, notes the CYWHS. Children who spend a lot of time outside or tend to sweat might require more frequent shampoos. Older kids who are approaching puberty need to wash their hair often because the oil-producing sebaceous glands kick into high gear. Children with curly hair might benefit from conditioning their hair with coconut or sweet almond oil to help stop breakage, notes Parents.com.
Hand washing is extremely important for good hygiene since the hands are a dumping ground for the transmission of germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that numerous conditions and diseases are spread from unwashed hands. A child should wash his hands with soap and water several times a day. Hands should be thoroughly washed and rinsed for 20 seconds, advises the CDC. Key hand washing times include before eating, after going to the bathroom and after coughing or sneezing. Hands should be dried with a clean towel.
As a child approaches puberty, anywhere between the ages of 8 and 16, the sweat glands come alive, causing a marked increase in perspiration and body odor in most teens, according to Kids Health. A child can begin to routinely wear deodorant as part of his daily hygiene regime.
Dirt, sweat and dead skin cells can become trapped in socks, underwear and other clothing. That's why it's important to toss soiled clothes into the hamper and put on freshly laundered clothes every day, according to the CYWHS. Wearing cotton socks can help feet breath and keep them cool and dry. Sprinkling a little foot powder into shoes and socks can also help keep feet smelling fresh.
Good hygiene practices for kids include brushing teeth twice a day, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Your child's dentist or hygienist can show your child the most effective brushing techniques for optimal oral hygiene. Replacing sweet snacks with vegetables and fruits or crackers and cheese can help prevent tooth decay.