What is the best way to prevent illness? A little soap and water!
Wish you could put a bubble over your child to protect him from all the nasty sickness that is out there right now? It seems that everywhere you look someone is coughing, or you hear that someone else just came down with a stomach flu bug. Yuck! Parents are always asking me the best way to keep their child healthy. There are many ways to help your child stay healthy; a good diet, good sleep, but the BEST way to protect your child is very simple. You need to make hand washing something you do well and often. How often have you and your child washed your hands today?? And when you washed, how long did you wash?
Hand washing is the single most important tool you have to keep yourself and your child healthy. Often parents wash their hands frequently, but forget to help their child wash hands. Think about what your child touches throughout the day. Other playmates, shopping carts, shared toys, pets, and then those little hands rub their eyes, pick up food, and are put in their mouth. That is how an illness is usually spread.
So we parents need to teach our children ( and maybe review for ourselves) how and when to wash hands. A little splash of water and squirt of soap with a 5 second rub will NOT do it!
How to wash hands:
1. Wet hands thoroughly.
2. Place a small amount of bar soap or liquid soap on the hands.
3. Rub hands together vigorously making sure that the tops of the hands and every surface have been cleaned.
4. Continue rubbing for 20 seconds. Time that…it is longer than you think! Try singing a song to wash hands to be sure your child understands how long 20 seconds really is! (Happy Birthday twice works!)
5. Rinse hands and dry completely.
When to wash hands:
1. Before eating….even those middle of the day snacks.
2. After playing outside.
3. After petting an animal.
4. After coughing, sneezing or wiping a nose.
5. After shopping.
6. After using the bathroom ( you would be surprised how many people don’t!)
7. When other people in the home are ill….wash hands more often.
Antibacterial soaps and hand gels:
It would seem that an antibacterial soap would be the best choice for hand washing. In actuality, studies show that they do not work any better than plain soap. More important is the actual action of rubbing hands together for the 20 seconds. Hand gel that contains at least 60% alcohol is a good option when soap and water is not available, but good old soap and water is the best. Hand gel will not hurt your child and can be a great alternative for a quick clean up when a sink is not around!
So…there is no bubble you can put your child in to protect him from the world of germs. The best option is quite simple, help your child learn how and when to wash hands and everyone will be healthier. Scrub away!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.