Healthy habits start from a young age, so teach your toddler the basics of personal hygiene early on. At first, help her perform the task of brushing her teeth and hair and soaping those hard-to-reach body parts and shampooing. Make personal hygiene a fun activity during the toddler years and she’ll keep those habits throughout her life.
Look for Books
A number of fun, colorful books that teach children the basics of hygiene are available. If you struggle to get your toddler to understand why one area of hygiene, such as brushing his teeth or washing his face, is important, check a book out of the library or buy one that tackles that subject. Seeing another toddler, even one on the page, dealing with the same problem, may convince your tot that he needs to focus on his hygiene.
When you teach your toddler to wash her hands, teach her a song to sing while doing so. Ideally, she’ll spend 20 seconds washing her hands each time. Teach her the “Happy Birthday” song and have her sing it twice while washing. She can also sing the ABC song, which is a great way to teach her the alphabet at an early age. If you’re so inclined, make up a special song together to sing while you wash up. Add to your repertoire with other duets to sing while you and your toddler perform other hygiene tasks, such as brushing her teeth or shampooing her hair.
Toddlers learn by imitating the things you do. Stand in front of a mirror and brush your toddler’s teeth. Then have him try to brush yours. Wash your hands in the sink, then have him wash his own, copying what you did. You can also teach a toddler how to brush his hair by first brushing his, then having him brush yours. Be sure to praise him as he brushes and admire the handiwork when he’s done.
Turn bath time into a fun game and teach your toddler the proper names for body parts by playing a version of “Simon Says” in the bath. Give your toddler a wash cloth and a squirt of liquid soap. Say “Simon says, ‘Wash your toes!'” and help her find her toes and wipe them with the wash cloth. Offer your toddler assistance washing up as needed, especially for the harder-to-reach parts, such as her back and ears.
Help your toddler develop a routine by making a chart with each hygiene task listed on it. After she performs each task, she can add a star or other sticker to the chart. Teach your toddler when she should wash her hands: after using the potty, before she eats and after playing outside. Award her one sticker for each time she washes her hands. Give her a sticker after you help her brush her teeth and after a weekly shampoo as well. Decide on a prize for filling out the chart or for getting a certain number of stickers.