Hand washing is the most important way we prevent the spread of germs. Washing our hands with a mild soap before preparing food, after using the bathroom, after diaper changing, after handling pets, and after returning home from running errands can help decrease the spread of germs to your baby.
Once your baby is old enough to spend time exploring their world, around the time they crawl, you will need to wash their hands too. While alcohol-free hand sanitizer works in a pinch, hand washing is still the preferred method of cleaning little hands.
Here are the steps to ensure you are washing their hands correctly and gently.
- Turn on the faucet and check the temperature of the water.
- Gently run both your and your child’s hands under the water.
- Add a mild soap. The soap can be liquid or solid and does not need to be labeled antibacterial to work well.
- Lather all sides of both of your hands, including back of hands, palms, fingers, and in between fingers.
- Sing while you gently work the soap over the hands for about 20 seconds. Singing helps you wash long enough to remove dirt and germs, makes the process more fun, and allows hand washing to become a moment of connection rather than a chore: ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Happy Birthday are all crowd favorites
- Rinse with warm, but not hot, water.
- Dry little hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
Remember to be gentle. Little hands are delicate and children will resist hand washing if their fingers have been squeezed too hard. Make eye contact and connect with your child so that hand washing becomes a happy little ritual.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, May 2020
- Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.
- Wash yours and your baby’s hands frequently.
- Anti-bacterial soap is not necessary.
- Be gentle!