If you have children, there are many habits you may feel inspired or obliged to teach them as they mature. Perhaps none are more important than hygiene habits as they can affect personal health and even lifespan.
Read on to learn four important healthy habits that can make a long-term difference in your child’s health and well-being. These habits are important to instill at a young age.
Proper and Regular Hand Washing
One area where both kids and adults fall down in the hygiene arena is hand washing. Proper hand washing by kids can prevent everything from commonplace diarrhea to lethal gastrointestinal disease and pneumonia which annually kill 1.8 million children age five and under around the globe. On a more mundane level, improving your child’s hand washing can help reduce sick days and doctor visits.
Teach your child to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before and after meals, after touching pets, after playing in the yard as well as routinely throughout the day. If you teach your child to sneeze or cough into the crook of their elbow, the way many doctors do, they won’t have to wash their hands after every “achoo.”
Good Dental Care
Care of your child’s teeth should ideally start soon after they begin to erupt. You can ask your family dentist in Draper, UT or one in your particular locale when it’s time to introduce your child to a toothbrush and regular professional dental visits to have the teeth cleaned and checked for cavities as well as for appropriate development.
Usually, dentists like to see parents helping toddlers as young as one year old to brush their teeth, so they get used to this as a daily routine and can eventually do it on their own.
You can start by introducing brushing before bed every night and progress to brushing two or three times a day after meals or sweets.
While having a beautiful smile is a great bonus, having a properly positioned bite can affect your child’s jaw development and prevent future head and neck pain. Taking care of the gums by preventing plaque buildup through brushing and flossing will help your child retain their teeth when they are older. It can also prevent bacteria from entering the bloodstream and causing debilitating or life-threatening infections at any age.
Eliminating Nail Biting
If you watch a group of preschoolers or even elementary school kids for just a few minutes, you’re likely to see some hygiene habits that make your hair stand on end, and some of these persist long into adulthood. While nose picking may be avoided by the time kids reach middle school, nail biting is a habit that can hang on for a lifetime.
You need to explain that many “good” bacteria live on human skin to help it function as part of the body’s defense system. These bacteria, like staph and strep, should not, however, be entering the mouth by nail biting.
Likewise, there are bacteria in the mouth to help break down food and protect the oral cavity. While they may not cause any harm if they make their way to closed skin on the fingers, if your child has small nicks or cuts on the hands, they can enter the bloodstream and cause an infection. Additionally, putting one’s mouth on one’s hands and then touching other objects is one way many viruses, such as the common cold, are spread.
Bathing as a Daily Routine
Most babies and young children love taking a bath or shower. Somewhere along the line, however, many kids develop a resistance to bathing. Sometimes they don’t want to be bothered, and in other instances, it is a natural way of exerting control over their bodies as they mature.
Kids work up a sweat playing sports, though, and accumulate dirt and grime through daily activities. This should be washed off for numerous reasons:
• prevent illness
• keep the skin, the body’s largest organ, healthy
• eliminate body odor
• minimize acne breakouts and skin inflammation
• keep clothing and bed linens cleaner
• conform with social norms
Allow your child to select bath products they like and are enthusiastic about using. If your household is chaotic and rushed in the morning, try moving bath or shower time to the evening, as a wind-down period after activities or a way to relax before sleep. This ensures the day’s detritus is washed off, keeps bedding more hygienic and leaves more time for a healthy breakfast in the morning.
The longer your child engages in a bad habit, the harder it is to break. Instill good hygiene habits in your child when they are very young, and you won’t have to break any bad habits at all. Your kid will be healthier and happier for it.
Whether you’re a first time stepdad to your partner’s baby, or you live in a blended family with your own teenagers, there is a lot you can do to help your children feel great and develop healthy lifestyle habits that stay with them for life. Learn some top healthy lifestyle tips you can try with all your kids by clicking here.