Basic hygiene habits to teach your children
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Basic hygiene habits to teach your children

Improve your children’s overall health by teaching them these basic personal hygiene habits.

Children washing hands
Children washing hands/ iStock

Good hygiene is an essential part of being healthy. Personal hygiene is very important in minimising the risk of infection and enhancing your children’s overall health.

Kids get exposed to dirt and it is crucial that as a parent you ensure that your kids develop good hygiene habits.
Let's look at ways you can ensure you improve your children's personal hygiene.

Brush teeth daily
Teach your children to brush their teeth daily.

Explain to your children the importance of brushing their teeth – keeps breath fresh, prevents gum problems, removes plaque and removes stains on teeth.

It is important that they understand that not brushing their teeth daily can cause plaque to build up in their mouth. A build-up of plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

“When you have eaten, and food is left in the mouth, especially sugary food, and then you don’t brush your teeth, the dirt will increase bacteria, “says Dr. Immaculate Maloma from Dr George Mukhari Hospital in Gauteng.

She adds that children should be encouraged to floss their teeth at least once or twice a week.

“Flossing should not be done daily as it can lead to more health problems,” says Dr. Maloma.

Bath when dirty
Taking a bath ensures that you remove bacteria on the body.

Not bathing will cause dirt to build up on your child’s skin and results in your skin appearing greasy.

Not bathing can also leave your child with an unpleasant body odour.

Don’t forget to ensure that they wash their underarms and private parts properly. Dr. Maloma advises that you “don’t use strong or scented soap on your child’s genitals. We have normal flora that prevents us from having thrush. However, if you wash their private parts too much to try and remove the smell and use harsh soaps, you remove the normal flora, and that can lead to them battling with thrush”.

Washing hands
Germs from your hands can get into food and drinks and they can spread when we touch other people.

Teach your children the habit of washing their hands before eating, after using the toilet, after touching a sick person, after sneezing and coughing, and after touching garbage.

Teach them to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, because germs get spread that way.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, respiratory illnesses like influenza,
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are spread by coughing
or sneezing.

Therefore, it is important to teach your children to cover their mouth with a tissue when they sneeze, or cough. This will help them to cut down on the number of germs they can spread to others or objects.

ALSO READ: The importance of washing your hands

Throw used tissue in a waste bin
Teach your children the habit of throwing away their used tissues in the bin to avoid someone else having to touch the tissue which contains germs.

“Make sure that all the soiled tissues are thrown into the bin. If they are soiled, there are probably full of germs,” says Dr. Maloma.

Wearing clean clothes
It is crucial for your child to wear clean clothes, especially underwear. Clothes absorb sweat and dirty clothes smell.

Dirty underwear can increase the risk of yeast infection and may have traces of faeces on it. The bacteria from faecal matter can spread to the urinary tract and cause a urinary tract infection.

“For baby girls, teach them to wipe themselves from the front after using the toilet. They must wipe from the opening of where the urine comes out to where the faeces comes out. If they don’t wipe correctly, they can be in danger of urinary tract infection,” says Dr. Maloma.

Image courtesy of iStock/ monkeybusinessimages


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