By Nancy Gottesman
Toddler behavior encourages the spread of germs: not covering their mouths when they sneeze and cough, putting shared toys in their mouths, hanging out with sniffl y kids in daycare and preschool. But there are some measures that you, the parent, can take to prevent illness.
“The single most important thing in preventing infection is hand washing, hand washing, hand washing,” stresses Christopher S. Ryder, M.D., author of Take Your Pediatrician With You (John Hopkins Press, 2007). “You can’t underestimate this!”
Here, a few more tips:
1. Teach your tot to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice—about 15 seconds—as he washes his hands with soap and warm water, which is about the time it takes to get hands clean.
2. Carry hand sanitizers in your purse, car, diaper bag, etc., for times you’re not near running water.
3. Keep your entire family up to date on immunizations.
4. Avoid or limit contact with people who are sick.
5. When there’s no tissue around, encourage your child to sneeze, cough or blow his nose in his sleeve. (It doesn’t look nice, we know, but it will help prevent others from getting sick!)