Hand washing and Good Hygiene for Children

Children can spread germs quickly in any environment, from home to early years settings and schools if good hygiene procedures aren’t followed and promoted.

As colder months continue - bringing with them coughs, colds and runny noses - there's no better time to promote good health and hygiene habits for children. This is particularly important when children just start nursery or school and when there are changes in the weather.

It’s vital that parents and educators promote good hygiene procedures and support the children to understand the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of germs.

Since good hand washing is the single most important way to reduce the spread of infection, you may start by following these simple steps to maintain cleanliness at home for a hygienic and healthy environment:

  • Teach the children to wash their hands at the right time (e.g. before mealtimes or before helping to prepare food, immediately after touching pets, after using toilets, after playing outside etc)
  • Have soap, towels and access to running water to ensure your children wash their hands properly. In the event of these not being readily available make sure you have antibacterial wipes or gel at hand.
  • Teach the children to use the correct hand washing procedure
  • Teach the children the ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ approach.
  • Always have a supply of tissues available in accessible places and support children to wipe or blow their own nose if its running, don’t forget to remind children to wash their hands afterwards.
  •  Being outside in the fresh air is one of the best ways for children to keep healthy and to keep germs at bay. Ensure children have suitable clothing to keep them warm, dry and comfortable while playing outside. And of course, remind them to wash their hands when they come back inside!

It is important to remember that if you remove one link from the chain the infection cannot take place. You can make a difference through good hygiene practice.

How do you remove a link?

  1. Keep an infected person away from other people (isolate), take care of raw food, nappies and soiled items
  2. Prevent any faces, vomit or fluid from wounds, coughs and sneezes getting onto surfaces or hands
  3. Use the ‘targeted hygiene’ approach to prevent germs from spreading to people or things that are shared or eaten. The targeted approach means cleaning at the right time as well as in the right places.
  4. Cover cuts with waterproof plasters
  5. Ensure the food you eat has been cooked properly
  6. Ensure the water you drink is clean and fresh
  7. Keep away from people who are infectious and keep away from crowds

Please remember infection may be passed directly from person to person or indirectly by contact with equipment, surfaces and unwashed hands. The easiest way to break the chain of infection is to remove the spread of germ links, and you have control over removing this link.

You can make a difference through good hygiene practice!