How Do I Teach My Toddler Personal Hygiene?

Raising a child can be challenging. One of the most critical and often overlooked aspects of parenting is teaching your toddler personal hygiene. 

Personal hygiene includes brushing teeth, washing hands, taking showers or baths, wearing clean clothes and more.

This blog post will outline some helpful tips to teach your toddler personal hygiene. 

Many diseases and conditions can be prevented or controlled through appropriate personal hygiene and by frequently washing parts of the body. 

Personal hygiene not only helps in keeping oneself clean but also prevents the spread of infectious diseases. 

Most infectious diseases spread through the oral faecal route or droplet infection through the nose. 

Teaching children about hygiene and creating a personal hygiene routine early on is essential as they are more susceptible to infections.

Personal Hygiene for Children – What Is It?

Personal hygiene comprises various day-to-day activities such as bathing, brushing teeth, and washing hands.

Whether they go to the school, a park, or any other place, children contact dirt and dust that carry infection-causing microorganisms. 

There are germs everywhere in the environment. Kids tend to put their hands and toys in their mouth. 

These could get transferred to their hands and find their way into the child’s body, causing various diseases and infections. We can prevent this by teaching personal hygiene habits.

Teaching toddlers about personal hygiene and cleanliness and getting them into a routine early will help them continue to take care of themselves as they get older.

To make sure toddlers have good personal hygiene, teach your child to wash their hands before eating or preparing food, after going to the toilet, and after playing or touching animals or dirty things. Use water and soap over hands and wrists. Dry hands thoroughly.

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Importance of Personal Hygiene for Children

Children who live in unhygienic conditions and have poor personal hygiene are prone to illnesses as their immune system is not as strong as adults’.

Good personal hygiene habits enable your children to:

  • Stay healthy, free from illnesses and diseases caused due to bacteria.
  • They feel good about themselves.
  • Maintain and enjoy a healthy body image – people with poor personal hygiene have a negative body image, disrupting their social life.
  • Developing a healthy personality – being clean, well-dressed and well-represented boosts one’s self-image, which in turn increases their confidence and chances of success in professional and social lives.
  • They are prevented from getting repeated infections, and this results in better weight gain.

Children do not have the knowledge or skills to take care of their hygiene. Therefore, parents need to oversee their habits. The best way to teach kids about hygiene is to start early, with simple practices at home. Read on to know more about the healthy habits that you can help your child develop.


Teaching Toddlers About Hygiene

One thing that toddlers are remarkably good at is getting filthy, whether it’s from playing in the mud, using their spaghetti sauce-smeared hand to scratch an itch, or wiping their nose sans tissue. 

Fortunately, this is the perfect time to begin teaching your child about healthy hygiene routines. 

She won’t become a clean queen overnight. But getting familiar with these maintenance skills can help instil good habits that your child will stick with once she’s old enough to handle them without your supervision.


One of the best ways to keep your toddler healthy during the cold-and-flu season is by demonstrating the proper way to clean his hands.

Explain why it’s essential using simple terms: “We wash with soap and water to get rid of dirt and germs that could make us sick.” 

List the times when he needs to visit the sink—before eating and after using the potty, blowing his nose, or playing outside—and offer frequent gentle reminders.

Then take him through the process. 

Please turn on the water (stick to cold to be safe), have him wet his hands, pump the soap dispenser once, and lather up by rubbing together the front and back of his hands and in between his fingers. 

Sing “Happy Birthday” or another song he knows to make sure he washes for at least 20 seconds. 

When he’s done, show him how to rinse and dry. You can make the process more appealing by using bright-coloured or fruit-scented soap and giving him a high five for his effort.


Your child won’t be able to scrub in the tub by herself for several years, but she’s capable of learning the basics. 

Focus on the fact that taking a bath is a fun way to get clean, and narrate what you’re doing: “Mommy is putting soap on the washcloth to scrub your tummy.” Then see if she can copy you. Have her wash a doll’s hair. 

Then see if she can handle one step by herself, such as wetting her hair or making a suds sculpture after you’ve put in the shampoo. 

For rinsing, ask her to lean her head back and close her eyes. 

Having your child take an active role in these tasks can make her feel empowered and encourage her to do even more as her motor skills improve.

Coughing and Sneezing Etiquette

Show-and-tell is the best strategy for teaching your child these skills. Demonstrate what to do when you sneeze yourself (“See how I put a tissue over my nose and mouth, so I didn’t spread germs?”). 

You can also model how to wipe a runny nose and cough into your elbow or sleeve. Teach your toddler to blow by pressing one nostril closed while she exhales gently through the other.

Don’t expect her to master these techniques right away. It’s difficult for a 1-year-old to recognise, ‘Hey, I’m about to sneeze or cough’ and act in time to cover up. If she’s too late, say, “You almost caught that sneeze. Nice try. I bet you’ll get it next time.” 

Kids are more in touch with their bodily cues by age 2, so keep working on it. You might take turns covering pretend coughs and sneezes and let her practice proper hygiene with a stuffed animal friend who has “a cold.”


The next time your toddler reaches for his toothbrush, don’t pull it away; let him try it out. While he’ll need your help with dental hygiene until around age 8, getting him comfortable with brushing will help turn him into a pro by then. 

Since your child won’t understand that cleaning his teeth thoroughly helps prevent cavities, you can say, “We brush our teeth so they’ll look and feel good.”

Take him through each step as you wet the brush, squeeze a thin smear of toothpaste onto it, clean his teeth and his tongue, and then show him how to rinse his mouth with water and spit. 

Have your child test-drive the process, either on himself or you. Want to boost his cooperation? 

Try letting him pick out his favourite kids’ toothpaste (fluoride is now considered safe for toddlers) and toothbrush. 

You can also sing songs and make silly faces or noises—choo-choo sounds might do the trick if he’s a Thomas the Tank Engine fan—as he brushes.

Types of Personal Hygiene

Whether your child is at school or home, eating, sleeping, playing, or helping you in the kitchen, they should maintain cleanliness. 

Because cleanliness is not just about keeping oneself clean, it is also about keeping the surroundings clean. Here are a few types of personal hygiene your child should be aware of.

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Food Hygiene for Kids

Unhealthy eating habits could lead to food poisoning, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, or tummy pains. 

It can also lead to typhoid, hepatitis A or cholera. Even respiratory infections and flu develop due to improper hygiene. 

It is essential to maintain hygiene when eating, serving, or preparing food to prevent bacteria from spreading from one person to another. 

Tell your children about the importance of food hygiene. At the same time, mothers should maintain their hygiene. At the same time, mothers should maintain their hygiene.

When you teach your children about food hygiene, start with the basics – talk to them about germs and bacteria. 

Explain how quickly bacteria can spread from their hands to the food and into the mouth or nose. 

Use practical ways. Here are a few food hygiene habits that you should teach your child.

Children should be told to clean their hands thoroughly before handling food, specifically after using the washroom. This needs to be reinforced every time. Here are some hand wash rules you could teach your child:

  • Always wash hands with soap and clean water before touching or handling food.
  • Rinse and rub soap for at least 1-2 minutes.
  • It is essential to wash hands before eating after eating if they have been to the toilet or were playing outside.
  • Clean hands thoroughly so that there are no traces of soap left. Use fresh water to clear the soap completely.
  • Please wash your hands frequently when helping in the kitchen, like vegetables, raw meat, and others carrying bacteria before they are cooked.
  • Wash your hands after eating food.
  • Mothers should wash their hands before cooking food or feeding the child, or breastfeeding the baby.
  • Always use a clean cloth to wipe your hands and mouth.
  • Teach your children to cover the food containers with lids after serving the contents on their plates.
  • If your children often help you in the kitchen, teach them the basics of storing foods and hygienic cooking.

Hand Hygiene for Kids

A simple act like washing hands can go a long way.

According to the CDC, washing hands with soap water could reduce diarrheal diseases by 50% and respiratory infections.

As soon as your children come home from school or play, remind them to wash their hands and feet before touching any food items.

If your children are young, give them a practical lesson on washing their hands thoroughly and not just wet them with water. Here are the steps for it.

  1. Wet your hands with clean water.
  2. Apply soap and rub your hands together to lather up for about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Clean in between fingers, under the nails and up to the wrist
  4. Wash away the soap thoroughly with clean water

Dry the hands with a clean towel.

You should also check your children’s nails and cut them regularly, as mud and dirt can get deposited under the nails and spread infections.

Instruct your children never to put dirty hands in their mouth, bite nails, or wipe their face or eyes with filthy hands.

Make it a habit for your children to wash their hands before and after touching or eating food. Tell them they also need to wash their hands after:

  • Using the toilet
  • They are outside, riding a bike, playing in the sand, etc.
  • Cleaning the house
  • Cleaning their nose, sneezing or coughing
  • Touching an animal, especially after they pet an animal or touch an insect
  • Visiting a sick friend or relative or returning from a hospital

Handwashing is a simple activity that takes just a few seconds of your time. But it is a highly effective way to keep germs and infections away.

Body Hygiene for Kids

One of the most important aspects of personal hygiene is taking care of your body. Body hygiene is about keeping every part of your body clean to stay healthy and presentable. Healthy body hygiene habits include taking care of the skin, hair, feet, and pubic region.


The skin is the largest organ in the body. It covers and protects all the other organs from external elements while being exposed to different microorganisms.

Accumulation of bacteria on the skin can cause body odour. So, it is necessary to teach children different ways to keep their skin clean. 

The infection will spread if there is a boil somewhere on the skin and the child scratches there and touches another part of the body.

Here are a few ways in which you can keep your skin clean.

  • Bathing regularly
  • Teach your kids to take a shower twice a day — before they head out to school after they come back. And after they come back in the evening after playing outside.
  • Teach them how to clean the different parts of the body – the hands, armpits, legs, feet, groin, joints, back, belly button (navel), elbows, and knees. Show them how to do it, and then let them practice it.
  • Make sure that they use soap for bathing, and pat dry the body after bathing.
  • Take extra care when teaching them to clean the face – make sure they wash their ears and the neck, which they may overlook.
  • Children tend to finish off bathing quickly, so make sure they spend enough time taking a bath. Also, reward them every time they bathe thoroughly.


Poor hair care in children can lead to head lice, dandruff, and other scalp infections. Children should be taught to take care of hair along with their skin.

It is essential to wash the hair at least twice a week to keep it free from dirt and grease.

When washing the hair, teach your children to wash the scalp with soap and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Children are prone to getting head lice, which is a problem that should be dealt with immediately.

Encourage your child to keep hair tied or braided to avoid head-to-head contact with other kids who may have lice.

Teach your children never to share personal objects like combs, pillows, and hats.

If your girl has long hair, always tell her not to leave the hair down. Let her tie it up to prevent the accumulation of too much dirt or grime.


Have you ever heard of the phrase “smelly feet”? That’s what happens when the bacteria on the feet come into contact with sweat. 

Children who wear shoes all day, especially without socks, tend to accumulate more dirt on their feet, which the bacteria feed off. Help your children keep their feet clean with these tips.

Instruct your child to wash their feet every time they go out and come into the house (to play or from school)

Clean the feet properly by scrubbing with soap between the toes, the soles of the feet, and under the toenails.

Use a clean cloth to wipe them dry.

Please encourage them to keep their shoes clean and dry. Dirty shoes have bacteria, which get transferred to the feet.

Always check and wash their socks regularly.

If your child gets injured during play, teach them how to keep their wounds clean until it gets healed.

Pubic Region

Body care also includes cleansing of the pubic region.

For girls, the vagina is one part of the body that can clean itself, and using vaginal douches can disrupt this natural balance. Hence they are not recommended. Girls are more prone to develop urinary tract infections.

Teach your daughter to wash around the genital region with soap and water, as she would the rest of the body. 

It would help if you also talked to your young girls about using a tampon or a pad safely and how often to change them for maintaining hygiene.

Boys should be taught early on to clean their genitalia. They should gently wash the penis and scrotum every day with soap and clean, warm water. 

Also, if they have the foreskin, teach them to gently pull it back and wash underneath with warm water.

Not washing underneath the foreskin can lead to smegma (natural lubricant to keep the penis moist) accumulation, resulting in a foul smell. 

It can also become a breeding ground for bacteria that causes balanitis, which is the swelling and redness of the tip of the penis.

Removal of pubic hair is a personal choice that your boy or girl can make when they are old enough. Experts believe that it is not necessary and does not have any known health benefits.


Health Hygiene for Kids

Most children tend to get affected by common colds around six to eight times a year, which is more than adults.

Therefore, it is essential to teach children about health hygiene to prevent germs and bacterial infections from spreading. 

When your child is down with the flu or any other infectious illness, ensure that they:

Avoid close contact with other kids – do not send your child to school or for play.

  • Use a tissue to cover the mouth when they cough or sneeze to prevent germs from spreading around. Some viruses like influenza spread through droplets, so teach your kid to use a cloth or a handkerchief to cover the mouth when they speak. This is especially true in winters.
  • Wash their hands often. If the water is too cold to use, use a hand sanitiser.
  • Do not share food, water, bedclothes, or other things that may spread germs to other children in the family.
  • Maintain clean surroundings and change their clothes at least twice a day.
  • As your children may not keep themselves and their surroundings always clean, it is your responsibility to support them.

Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is as important as hand hygiene or skin hygiene in children. A dirty mouth can give out a foul odour and cause cavities, which can be avoided when children have good oral hygiene. 

Here is how you can encourage them to keep their teeth and mouth clean.

  • Make sure your child brushes twice daily, and clean even the corners of the mouth thoroughly.
  • Teach them how to floss and remind them to do it each time they touch.
  • Ask them to wash their mouth with water after food or after eating candies.
  • Simple measures like gargling with warm salt water or mouthwash are very effective.
  • Schedule a dentist visit once every six months.

Hygiene at Home

In addition to personal hygiene, children should also be taught to maintain hygiene when they are home. Here are a few things you can teach them to do.

  • Teach your kids to wear clean clothes every day. They may like a specific dress, t-shirt or jeans, but explain that they should wear them only if it is clean.
  • Tell them to keep their surroundings clean and everything in its place.
  • Make them put the bowl or plate in the sink after eating a meal and washing their hands.
  • Teach them to clean if they spill or drop something on the floor or any other surface. If your kid is too young to be able to clean it, help him do it.
  • Let them follow basic toilet and bathroom cleanliness standards – they must flush the toilet after use, use the restroom supplies, throw used tissues or other garbage in the bin, etc.
  • You cannot teach your kids these essential personal hygiene habits overnight. Developing healthy habits is a process that takes time and should be handled patiently.


Teaching toddlers about personal hygiene and cleanliness and getting them into a routine early will help them continue to take care of themselves as they get older.

To make sure toddlers have good personal hygiene, teach your child to wash their hands before eating or preparing food, after going to the toilet, and after playing or touching animals or dirty things. Use water and soap over hands and wrists. Dry hands thoroughly.

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