6 good hygiene habits every parent must teach their toddler

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — April 14, 2019
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    It is important to teach your toddler about good hygiene habits, so she can take care of herself and stay healthy. Here are six key hygiene factors to share with her, and how you can approach the topic.

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  • Mouthing toys
    2 / 11 Mouthing toys

    While many toddlers have passed the stage where they put every single thing in their mouths, lots still have this habit.

    There is a risk of germs and diseases from licking or tasting dirty objects.

    Related: Hand sanitising: Is being too clean bad for your kid? 

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  • Sharing food
    3 / 11 Sharing food

    Your little one and her friend might share the same cup when having a drink, or when they take crisps from the same bag, lick their fingers, and then put their wet hands back in the bag again. That can be very unhygienic.

    Related: Video: What parents must know about colds and flu in babies and toddlers

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  • Coughing and sneezing
    4 / 11 Coughing and sneezing

    Many germs are spread when one child sneezes or coughs openly while playing with a group of friends.

    As a result, when your toddler starts preschool, she has an increased risk of upper respiratory infections.

    Related: Top 12 places to find kid-friendly furniture in Singapore


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  • Washing
    5 / 11 Washing

    Bathtime can be great fun for your young child, but it can also be a struggle, especially when it comes to hair-washing.

    Fear of water getting in her eyes or of the water being too hot can make her reluctant to wash regularly.

    Related: 9 cute bath toys that teach your toddler important development skills

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  • Personal habits
    6 / 11 Personal habits

    Isn’t it amazing how the typical toddler loves to stick her finger up her nose and dig out the contents?

    She thoroughly enjoys this personal habit, whereas everyone around her finds it disgusting. The same applies to passing wind.

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  • Dental care
    7 / 11 Dental care

    While she is probably too young to brush her own teeth, most experts suggest that she could at least chew on a damp toothbrush as part of her getting-ready-for-bed routine, as this gets her into the habit of thinking about cleaning her teeth.

    Related: 10 ways to prevent tooth decay in kids

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    Your child learns better when she is relaxed and having fun. So, keep hygiene activities enjoyable – place toys in the bath, sing and chat to her while she washes herself, and chuckle while you explain to her why she shouldn’t share a cup with a friend who has a cold.

    Related: 7 ways to teach your kid about stranger danger

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    It also helps to emphasise how she can achieve good personal hygiene, rather than focusing on what she does that results in poor cleanliness.

    Choose your language carefully. For instance, it’s more effective to say “it’s good that you cover your mouth while coughing” rather than “it’s not nice to cough in someone’s face”.


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    Likewise, it’s better to say “your hair smells so nice when it is clean and fresh” instead of “you smell bad when you don’t wash often enough”.

    By highlighting the preferred behaviour, you provide her with clear advice on how she should behave.

    Related: Toddler got stuck in activity toy cube, rescued by police officer

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    Keep your explanations about hygiene practical. For instance, tell your little one that putting dirty objects in her mouth will make her unwell.

    Also, reinforce hygiene through practice, such as by encouraging her to wash her hands before a meal and after using the toilet. Basic cleanliness habits like these focus her thoughts on hygiene and encourage her to recognise its importance.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

    Related: 7 things you should know about urinary tract infections in babies and toddlers

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