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Hand Washing Advice for Parents of Toddlers


toddler boy washing his hands in the sink


Hand washing is the easiest way to prevent your toddler (and you!) from getting sick. Show your toddler how to do it properly, and be a role model when you wash your own hands. Your toddler will learn by watching you do it regularly and correctly.

Wash hands for 15 to 20 seconds - about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday. Use plain soap and warm water. Pay attention to fingernails and the areas around them; if they're dirty, use a nail brush. Finish with a rinse and dry hands well with a clean towel.

Avoid using antibacterial soaps. They may add to the growth of "superbugs." Superbugs are bacteria too strong to treat with antibiotics.

Wash your hands and your toddler’s hands often, especially:

  • After changing diapers or using the toilet
  • blowing a nose
  • After touching animals or cleaning a litter box
  • When tending a sick child
  • When preparing food
  • Before eating

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer gel works well when you don’t have access to soap and water. Just rub hands together until the gel is dry. The alcohol will kill the germs on your hands and your toddler’s hands.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Handwashing
BC Centre for Disease Control: Hand Hygiene

BC Centre for Disease Control: Do Bugs Need Drugs

Last Updated: August 10, 2013