A head start in hand hygiene for your toddler

New research that has been organised by Dettol, has found the toddler spend around 50 percent of the day playing. The survey showed that nearly 90 percent of mothers said that they preferred to play with their child in a park, or in the garden, if they can. The company highlight that it is very important for children to be taught the importance of washing their hands, as it is one of the first lines of defence that they have against getting an infection.

The results of the survey also showed that around 75 percent of mothers ensure that their children wash their hands as soon as they come in from playing outside. However, nearly one in four women admitted that they did not make sure that their children wash their hands at this point.

The Dettol survey has found that 56% of mums like to have a basic daily plan for their toddler but still like to remain flexible. As well as playing in the park, almost 80% mums rate drawing and finger painting as their toddler’s favourite activity to keep them happy and entertained. Although fun, these activities can be quite messy and as such over three quarters (79%) of mums make sure their toddler washes their hands when they look dirty but interestingly over a quarter (26%) of mums don’t make their toddler wash their hands before eating, even if germs and dirt are not always visible on hands. It is extremely important that every precaution is taken to prevent your toddler ingesting bacteria which could make them unwell, especially as they are using their hands so much in their indoor as well as outdoor activities.

Professor John Oxford, Chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at Barts and The London School of Dentistry commented, “We want people to recognize that infections are often transferred via contaminated hands and surfaces. Thorough and regular hand washing with soap can help to protect children against many illnesses such as cold and flu and also foodborne illness. Teaching your children good hygiene habits has long term benefits and can help protect your whole family.”

Teaching your toddler basic hand hygiene from a young age, such as washing their hands after going to the toilet, before eating, after playing in the park or after they touch the family pet, ensures that these simple habitual behaviours are eventually undertaken automatically or as part of an everyday routine. It has been found that the odds of having good personal hygiene as an adult are 20 times higher in those who wash their hands automatically after using the toilet so it is best to start them young.

Here are the Hygiene Council’s Hygiene Council’s five top tips to teach your toddler basic hand hygiene:
• Encourage your toddler to start washing their hands from an early age
• Ensure your toddler knows when to wash their hands: before eating and before any cookery activities, after using the toilet, playing outside in the playground and after coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose
• Ensure you help your toddler wash all of their hands, including the hard to reach spots like in between their fingers or under the nails
• Timing counts, so make sure they are washing their hands for long enough, try singing ‘Happy Birthday twice, so they know how long they need to clean their hands for
• Make hand washing into a game for your toddler to ensure they are encouraged to keep doing it