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Hygiene for Toddlers/Preschoolers

Q: When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

A: It is recommended that you clean your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt.  For infants, gently brushing with a soft toothbrush or wiping the tooth with a clean, wet washcloth once per day is recommended.

As your child gets older, using training toothpaste without fluoride to clean the teeth twice per day is recommended.  After age 2, brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is recommended.  (The AAPD recommends a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as teeth erupt, not training toothpaste.  They recommend advancing to a pea sized amount by age 3-6 when they can swish and spit.)

Even though toddlers/preschoolers may like to brush independently, it is important that an adult “double check” their work.

Q: How should I help my children learn to wash his/her hands?

A: Demonstrate good hand washing.  Help your child wet their hands, lather with soap for at least 20 seconds, and rinse with warm water before drying.  Remind your child that washing their hands is the best way to keep themselves healthy.

Q: How often should I bathe my toddler/preschooler?

A: Toddlers and preschoolers should be taught the importance of washing daily.  While you do not have to shower or give a bath daily, toddlers and preschoolers should wash their hands and faces well in the morning and before bed.

Q: My child attends daycare/preschool/playgroups.  How can I keep them healthy?

A: Teaching your child good hand hygiene (hand washing) is the best defense in keeping him/her healthy.  Additionally, teaching your child to cough or sneeze into their elbow and to wash their hands after sneezing/blowing their nose is important; they may be able to remind their peers of this important skill, as well.


Jillian Grant, APRN