Keeping little kids nice and tidy is more challenging than a new mom can imagine. Things like hygiene are so simple to us because we’ve been following a routine for years and years; we no longer have to think about bathing or combing — we just do it.
For kids, on the other hand, we need to take literal baby steps. Everything needs to be explained step by step: why we do things. Telling our kids to brush their teeth isn’t reason enough for them to do it; they need to know why they’re doing it, which will eventually make them want to do it themselves.
There are a handful of things that we as adults do every day to stay clean, tidy, and healthy, and we need to teach our children the ways of the land early on. The longer we wait to teach our children about dental health, sharing things, and unclean hands, the higher the chance they could be known as the “smelly” kid in class. Plus, going through the dangers of grime and germs could be a refresher for us adults to do better.
Below are 20 oopsies so many of us make every day, but now with kids in the picture, it’s time for a little refresher on why good hygiene is so important and what to go over with those little ones.
20 An Infant Doesn’t Need To Be Bathed Everyday
I know what you’re thinking… After floating around for nine months in your belly, your newborn must need a bath immediately. While nurses will give your little one a sponge bath to get them more comfortable, they don’t need to be bathed every day once you’re back from the hospital. In fact, What to Expect says you only need to bathe your newborn two to three times a week. The site says “At first a sponge bath, until his umbilical cord stump heals (about one to four weeks after birth), then a baby tub bath, and eventually a tub bath, when baby can sit up on his own and outgrows the infant tub).”
19 Forgetting The Fingernails
Our little one’s fingernails are so small; so fragile. Just seeing how sharp they are is kind of humbling! Although most new moms are warned about a baby’s nails and how they may scratch themselves (they don’t really know how to control their arms or hands yet!), some moms forget about clipping them. How short is too short and how long is too long anyway? Mom Junction reminds us about the germs that hide under our nails and how important it is to trim them when they’re too young; babies, toddlers, and kiddos alike. Unclean “nails are a sign of germs that can enter your baby’s body and cause harmful diseases when he sucks his hands. Always try to keep your baby’s fingernails well-trimmed and clean.” Those baby fingernail clippers seem intimidating but get ’em anyway.
18 Try Doing The Dishes By Hand
As a nomad myself, I understand the luxury of having a dishwasher. Dishes are more than a chore to me. Scraping off the chewed pieces of food is sometimes extremely hard! The food can dry and stain dishes, which adds even more elbow grease. But as it turns out, maybe doing dishes by hand is a smart thing, in terms of germs. As Dr. Gilbert points out in Readers Digest, “A little germ exposure can be a good thing, and the sparkling clean dishes that come out of the dishwasher aren’t necessarily doing you any favors.” He continues saying “You actually leave more microbes on the dishes when you wash by hand, which can be beneficial,” says Dr. Gilbert.
As always, though, wash dishes safely and thoroughly to rid of germs and diseases.
17 A Nice Smelling Home Isn’t Always Worth It
Candles and room sprays leave your rooms smelling like a Hawaiian paradise. It’s magical, and some of these sprays even “clean” the cushions or drapes in your home. And to be honest, most moms buy these sprays and candles because they want their homes clean so that their kids will be clean. In actuality though, they can actually cause allergies. Instead of trying to make your house smell “cleaner,” make the air cleaner instead. Buy an air filter to remove those particles floating around in the air that we can’t see. Creating a more efficient conditioning system so that you won’t need all those toxic candles and sprays.
16 Not Helping Them Brush Their Teeth
When your kid is old enough to brush their own teeth, don’t clap your hands happily, knowing that you don’t need to supervise your child in the bathroom anymore. Instead, keep an eye on your little one. Not only is it a safety precaution, but you should make sure they’re brushing correctly. Like I said earlier, dental health is just as important as the rest of the body! Some kids think they’re brushing their teeth, but in actuality, they could just be swooshing water around, missing some teeth, or just brushing their tongue. Teach them how to brush correctly and for how long.
15 Are You Washing Your Hand Towels Enough?
Are you washing your towels enough? Here’s a quick answer: probably not. Although doing laundry is a pain in the butt, doing towels weekly is essential to get rid of grime and germs. Especially with kids and multiple family members in the house!
In terms of hand towels, they’re environmentally friendly and way less germ-filled than towels. According to Apartment Therapy, you should be washing your hand towels two to three times a week. The site notes “After about two days, if you dry your face on a hand towel, you’re probably getting more E. coli on your face than if you stuck your head in a toilet and flushed it.” Yikes!
14 Letting Them Fall Asleep With A Bottle
Seeing your little one drink so much milk that they fall asleep is a precious moment. They’re obviously so content and full that they felt compelled to sleep in their bed or in your arms. It’s adorable. Something that parents forget, though, is that they shouldn’t be falling asleep with their bottle in their mouth or next to them. All-Star Smiles says, “Putting a child to sleep with a sippy cup or feeding bottle full of juice or formula milk elevates the sugar and bacteria levels in the baby’s mouth – and keeps it up for a long time. This can lead to bottle mouth, and it’s not a pretty sight!” To avoid bacteria, take the bottle away from your little one as soon as they doze off to sleep (and then clean appropriately).
13 You Don’t Need To Wash The Pacifier Every Two Seconds
Whenever a child drops their pacifier on the ground, I can feel the inner-germaphobe in me cringing. While I would run to the closest sink and wash it immediately, Readers Digest begs to differ. “Washing it in [very warm] water can be just as effective, but on the whole more microbial stimulation correlates with stronger immune systems,” says Dr. Gilbert. Truth to be told, Dr. Gilbert even says parents can lick the pacifier before giving it to their kid. “In one study, the children of parents who did this had lower incidence of allergies, asthma, and eczema.”
12 Using Too Much Hand Sanitizer
Do you bring hand sanitizer with you wherever you go? Do you have one in your purse, diaper bag, and car? While it can be handy in some aspect, using too much hand sanitizer is definitely a thing. The alcohol in sanitizer can easily dry out your hands, which makes them crack and break if not equally moisturized. While ridding of germs is important, keeping your hands clean should be done so in balance. Using traditional soap and water should be sufficient enough for many kids and adults; there’s no need to use hand sanitizer after touching every surface. Germs are inevitable.
11 Baby Teeth Matter
First of all, how adorable are baby teeth? They’re so soft and round! The human body is a fascinating thing. However, just because those baby teeth will eventually fall out, it doesn’t mean parents should ignore them. Independent says baby teeth are “essential for speech, the structure of the face and holding space for the adult teeth to erupt into. If there is decay it can lead to infection, discomfort and potentially damage the permanent teeth below.” Brush those little teeth every day and take them to the dentist annually to make sure everything is forming nicely. Don’t be afraid to call your dentist to ask questions, as well.
10 Keep The Shoes At The Door
If you ask your own mom the one thing that bothers her the most about keeping their home and kids (when you were young) clean, it’s bringing unclean shoes in the house. Think about everywhere you walk in a day. From concrete, grass, mud, puddles — all that grime is on your and soon enough, your house. And then what do kids do? They run around the house—or crawling if you have babies—and sit on the ground to play with their toys. They’re essentially soaking up all those germs you just brought in the house that’s on the bottom of those shoes. To ignore stains, germs, and your kids getting sick — keep the shoes at the door.
9 Where You Store Your Toothbrush
I’m not going to lie, I never once thought about the bacterial forming on my toothbrush. Sure, I know we get bacteria on our toothbrush from brushing our teeth, but it can also get contaminated by what’s in the air. “Ironically, one of the [least ideal] places to store your toothbrush is in the bathroom!” Walnut Creek Pediatric Dentistry says. “It’s humid and full of germs. Avoid leaving your toothbrush where it will stay damp or come into contact with a lot of airborne bacteria.” Likewise, toothbrush caps sound great but make sure it keeps the brush dry all over. If not, it’s just creating more bacteria.
8 Not Wiping Correctly
Wiping ourselves after going to the restroom is all muscle memory at this point. Think about it, it’s something we can do with our eyes closed or in the dark. For a kid, however, it’s all relatively new. They’re not really sure what’s normal, what’s clean, and what’s abnormal. As long as you’re supervising your child’s restroom visits, teach them how to wipe correctly each and every time; a clean bottom is a happy bottom! Tell them what’s considered “clean” and what they could keep working on. It’s something that they’ll probably ogle at after a few tries.
7 Keep Your Hairbrush To Yourself
I am totally guilty of this. I brush my hair all the time, and If I’m getting ready for a night out with my friends, I don’t even think twice about using whatever hair brush is near me. I just grab it. Adults don’t need to think too much about sharing hair particles because most of us shower enough to have a clean scalp, but kids are a little different. Things like lice and ringworm can be transferred via hairbrushes. And as many adults know, once you get lice or ringworm, it’s not that easy to get rid of. Plus, both are extremely easy to catch in those circumstances! Whenever you drop your child off somewhere, put a hairbrush in their bag as to keep fungus and mites at bay.
6 Wash Sippy Cups In Between Refills
Ah, sippy cups. They’re amazing because your child can sip and carry it around without the real possibility of spillage. They’re pretty great. However, once your child is done with their first cup of juice (or whatever drink they’re sipping on), clean it out before refilling. Don’t just keep refilling the cup because washing it so many times is tedious, buy multiple sippy cups so you don’t need to do so many dishes and your child can have a fresh beverage time and time again. Use a brush to clean (as opposed to a sponge) and be sure to replace them as they weather and age, to ignore as much germs and bad bacteria as possible.
5 Don’t Forget The Feet!
I don’t know about you, but even as an adult I forget to really scrub my feet. Sure, I’ll do my toes from time to time, but do I scrub in between my toes and the bottoms of my feet every day? Absolutely not. I’d probably fall. Nevertheless, kids are a little different. Make sure they’re scrubbing their feet, getting rid of old skin, and refreshing their feet when they’re old enough to bathe themselves (or at least with supervision). Just think about how often your kids run around without shoes on; all that grime will stick to those piggies until it’s scrubbed off.
4 Wash Hands Pre and Post Eating
This is something that happens so often, it’s often forgotten about. While some adults may not always wash their hands before dinner, most tend to do so after dinner. I know I’m an adult and everything, but I can be a messy eater. Someway or another, food gets all over my hands and most likely on my clothes. And kids can be the same way! Think about how kids may lick their fingers in between bites or pets the dog before grabbing a sip of water. Do yourself and your kids a favor and teach them to wash their hands before they sit down and after they eat dinner. Start and finish with a clean slate, which in turn, will keep your home cleaner, too.
3 Sneezing And Coughing Etiquette
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people cough or sneeze without excusing themselves or covering their nose/mouth. I understand people need to “bless” those who sneeze around us, but when they do so without covering their face, it’s incredibly gross. I can practically see the germs come flying out of their mouth mid-sneeze. Make sure your kids aren’t these rude individuals; teach them how to cover their nose/mouth when they cough or sneeze and why they’re doing so to begin with. They’re not going to comprehend why they’re covering their mouth when sneezing, so explain to them why. From there, you can then teach them how to use tissues effectively.
2 Don’t Share Chapstick With Your Child
I can’t be the only one who dislikes sharing chapsticks and lipsticks, right? The mouth (lips included) are filled with bacteria and the mere thought of sharing my bacteria with someone else sounds like a horrific idea. Dr. Davis from the Mayo Clinic says, “Sharing these products increases your risk for contracting cold sores, which are caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV-1).” If chapstick usage is a big part of your routine, buy yourself and your child your own chapsticks. We share so many things in this world, but when it comes to the sanctity of your mouth, keep things like chapsticks separate.
1 Sporty ‘Fruit’ Drinks
Dental health should definitely be taken with the utmost care. Whether they’re baby teeth or adult teeth — take care of those teeth while they’re young so they can create a strong foundation for when they’re older. One step in taking care of those little chompers is ignoring those sports drinks. Gatorade and Powerade have some pretty phenomenal advertising to make us think that their beverages can change the way we perform. But when you look at the labels, there’ nothing really healthy about them. Be aware of the sugar content and color additives these sports drinks add to ensure healthy chompers.