As you send your little one out into the world, the realization that you are not always going to be around them when they go to school or when they grow older hits you like lightning. With your wet wipes, sanitizer and frequent trips to the washroom, you have guarded them with your soul to make sure you keep infections at bay. But the time will soon come when your baby has to have a basic idea of hygiene on their own. At this point, not only should you teach them how to be hygienic but also give them enough information that will make them motivated to be clean, even in your absence. Without going overboard, there are some ways to impart the important lessons of hygiene to your kid and make it fun too! Read on to know how!
1. Have a Routine for Them
Children thrive on routine. It provides them the much-needed stability in their life that is swung every second in different directions by one emotion or the other. When you try to inculcate hygiene as part of their routine, there is a good chance they will follow it religiously. The sooner you introduce it to them, the sooner they will begin to pick it up as a habit. When your baby is learning these things for the first time, factor enough time into getting ready to make sure you aren’t delayed because your baby is trying to get the hang of brushing his or her teeth on her own.
2. Lead Them by Example
Allow your kids to see you go about your daily routine. When you decide that they should consciously be aware of good habits and hygiene, call out the different things you do in your day to day life that you would like them to learn. Ask them to see you brush your teeth so that they understand the rules of brushing. When you wash your hands before a meal, bring it to their attention and tell them why is washing one’s hands before a meal important. When they see you do it, they usually tend to imitate as you are their first role model after all.
3. Tell them the Importance of Hygiene
Without actually developing a fear of illness, it makes a lot of sense for you as a parent to help your baby understand what effects lack of hygiene can have. When they understand that washing hands before a meal, eating clean food, wearing clean clothes is important for them to be healthy and enjoy their favorite activities, it will be simpler to get them to do these things.
4. Make it Fun for Them
There are many ways to make mundane things like brushing the teeth fun for kids. Groove to a song while brushing teeth as a family or buy that new strawberry flavored toothpaste as an incentive to make your baby view brushing the teeth as a fun thing to do. In this day and age, the market is full of ways to make life fun for children. So go ahead and indulge.
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5. Use Different Mediums to Teach Them
There are rhymes, books, and stories available that will make them familiar with the whole routine of self-care and hygiene. Invest in these resources well ahead of time so that they actually think of these activities as fun things to do rather than mundane jobs to finish every day.
6. Tell Them How Infection is Contracted
Most of the times, many germs are present on door handles and other places commonly used by everyone that we may not even be aware of. This is why we recommend that children wash their hands thoroughly. Giving them this awareness will not only serve as motivation for them to be hygienic, it will also lead them to be aware individuals when they grow up.
7. Make Them Look Forward to the Activity
One of the oldest tricks in the book is how you can package an activity as a reward in order to make your baby look forward to it. So tell them they can brush their teeth by themselves if they finish their food on time. When you want them to start becoming self-sufficient in their habits, this rule will definitely help you progress in the right direction.
8. Educate Them on the Consequences
Without being too factual to the point of inducing germophobia, gently explain to your baby the everyday consequences of being unhygienic. If they understand that some caution on their part might keep away illnesses, the knowledge itself may serve as a motivation for them to be clean and practice good hygiene.
9. Tell Them Hygiene is the Way of Life
As your baby grows older, instead of just presenting a list of do’s and don’ts to him or her, talk to them about the larger picture. This will also set the stage for them to make healthy, hygienic decisions later in life when they are faced with situations that call for it. Portray hygiene as a way of life rather than just a preventive measure.
10. Include Them in the Process
Once the topic of hygiene has been introduced to your child, a good way to achieve their buy-in on the process of being clean and tidy is to involve them while framing ground rules. Be fair and allow them to point it out when you slip up as well. It will give them a feeling of importance and motivate them to follow the rules themselves.
There is a working space in which all of us attempt to keep away infections and germs. However, despite our best efforts, we do end up contracting the flu or a bacterial infection from time to time. Do not see this as something bad as your baby’s body also develops resistance to a bug only after contracting the same. This is how a human body’s immunity is built over time.
So apart from following the basic pointers on hygiene, do not fret over every little thing as a child in a sterile environment often faces a lot of illness when they step into the real world. So go ahead and smell the roses with your baby. Just make sure he or she washes their hands afterwards!