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Proper hygiene is something we adults take for granted, and forget sometimes that it is something that has to be learned. If your child comes back from school telling you that his peers call him “stinky” or any other name, it is in part your fault. You haven’t instilled in your child proper hygiene.

It becomes more evident when puberty hits. Bodies change, hormones kick in. Girls start menstruating and boy’s sweat glands are suddenly over active. That is when the social problems begin as well, and adding bad body odor to the mix will not endear your child to his/her peers.

For the steps to be easy, they should begin at an early age, when what is taught had a chance to become a habit to serve your child when it is really important and your opinion suddenly doesn’t count.

Hand washing
This is an important health habit on top of being proper hygiene. Wash your hands before you feed your baby and wash his/hers. It might be cumbersome at times but keep doing it, verbalizing as you go to why you are doing it. When he/she become potty trained, insist on hand washing as well. Teach them how to so it properly, with soap, for at least 15 seconds.

Bath and body odor
Bathing at the same time every day, preferably before he/she goes to bed, will become a part of the process of winding down and going to sleep. This will prevent body odor during the early years. Later on, when the kids shower or bath by themselves, do some ‘spot checks’ to see it they are using soap and shampoo. It sometimes takes some convincing to get the reluctant child to go to the shower and then half an hour later you have to coax him/her to get out of there.

At the appropriate age talk to your child about the changes about to happen to their bodies, and how it will manifest itself with odor.

Clean Clothes
You should teach that be doing that. Changing undergarments daily is a habit you have to start when they are potty trained. When they’ll grow up it will be the natural way of doing it.

Clean shoes
We are not talking about shoe shine but about the inside of the shoe, where the bacterium loves to live. Our feet contain a large amount of sweat glands; in fact they have the largest amount of glands per area. Keeping shoes aerated – having the moisture disappear from the insole – will prevent the bacteria from thriving. Kids fall in love with shoes sometimes and don’t want to wear anything else but this pair. If they have another pair, explain the importance of dry shoes and have they favorite pair take a “rest day”. Again, what you teach your child at an early age will stay with him/her forever.

Dental hygiene
Start early, when the first teeth come out. A clean, soft toothbrush to rub the gums can be something the baby might like – with supervision! Have the baby in the bathroom with you to see you do it. Lead by example and have regular dentist appointments.



Krisca Te works with Open Colleges, Australia’s leading provider of TAFE courses equivalent and distance learning courses. When not working, she enjoys spending her day with her baby boy.

Earnest Parenting: helping parents establish good hygiene habits in children.

Image courtesy of Save the Children via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.