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How to teach your child about good hygiene
Here's how to teach your children, no matter their age, about good hygiene.
Hygiene (Shutterstock)


Let’s face it, for the first 6 weeks, newborn babies can’t really do all that much to get dirty. Which means you only really need to bath them every 2 to 3 days. So start by using just water or non-fragranced cream, which is less dehydrating, until bathtime becomes more regular and you can use all those irresistible-smelling baby toiletries. Also keep an eye on your baby’s nails and trim them if they get too long to avoid scratching themselves. FYI: Some parents put little socks on their baby’s hands to stop this too.  

From 12 months of age is the perfect time to introduce good hygiene habits. Start by teaching them how to brush their teeth and try getting your baby to let you know when their nappy is wet. This will take some time, but just keep asking them and eventually they’ll get the hang of it. From about 18 months, they can start learning how to wash and rinse their hands by themselves. But just a word of warning, keeping clean can be quite a messy business at this age!   


A word to the wise, don’t start potty training until your child is ready for it. What you can do though is start telling your toddler about the potty and explain to them what it’s used for. This may also need some repetition. Leave the potty in the bathroom for them to see and speak to them about it as often as possible. It’s a good idea to include the potty itself while doing other bathroom activities, like brushing their teeth. Let them sit on it as part of their routine, even if nothing happens. Above all, keep a positive attitude about potty training and don’t force them to use it if they don’t want to. 

From the age of three your child’s bladder control improves considerably! But keep in mind that some children, especially boys, take a little longer before they’re totally potty trained. So even though a few ‘accidents’ may still occur, expect your toddler to start using and flushing the toilet, as well as washing and drying their hands. They’ll also start brushing their teeth and bathing. All under supervision, of course.

Older child

Keeping clean is no longer such a messy business! Your child should be able wash and dry their own face, bath themselves, brush their own teeth and even go to the toilet by themselves. Just be sure to keep encouraging this independent behaviour when it comes to your toddler’s hygiene.   
By the time your child turns 6 they should be completely independent when it comes to their hygiene habits. They’ll be able to bath themselves, brush their own hair (although they may need a little help if it’s long), brush their teeth and use the toilet whenever they need without any help.

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How do you teach your children basic principles like hygiene?

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