Keeping Clean, Oral Care, First Aid

Good health is connected to grooming and hygiene. It is important for your child to learn the importance of personal hygiene to avoid the spread of illness.

Because your three year old has better listening and understanding skills, she can understand why she needs to:

* bathe regularly,
* brush her teeth twice a day,
* use tissues to blow her nose,
* cough into the crook of her arm,
* comb and brush her hair,
* and change her clothes daily.

Your child is capable of understanding not only the reasons for good hygiene, but also what happens when you don’t practice good hygiene.

I’m Clean!

Good health is connected to grooming and hygiene. It is important for your child to learn the importance of personal hygiene to avoid the spread of illness. At three years of age, it is necessary for parents to guide and tell their children about personal hygiene and set the example. Good hygiene skills will help your child the rest of her life.

Teaching hygiene may seem difficult and frustrating at times as your child may boycott taking a bath, brushing her teeth for two minutes, or even washing and combing her hair. You can read books to your child as a means of keeping hygiene practices in her mind. Elizabeth Verdick has an entire series of books for children ranging from Germs Are Not for Sharing to Noses Are Not for Picking.

Don’t forget washing clothes; now that your child is three, she can help you sort the laundry by color and even drop clothes into the machine. Remember, you are the role model; what she sees you do will set your child on the path to healthy hygiene practices in the future.

Oral Care

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that you take your child to the dentist within six months after her first tooth erupts, or by her first birthday, whichever comes first.

After your child's first visit, the dentist will tell you when your child needs to return. Most children see a dentist every six months.

Just as you took the time to prepare your child for his well-child visit you need to do the same for a dental visit.

When your child was a toddler, you may have noticed that she had an inclination to want to brush her teeth herself; however, your child still needs your assistance when brushing. Young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.

To help your child still have a sense of independence, you can let her brush her teeth using a pea size amount of toothpaste, but then you must brush her teeth again to make sure no spots are missed.

The general rule is when your child is able to tie her own shoes, she can brush her own teeth because you will know her fine motor skills are developed enough to do this; however, you still need to monitor your child and make sure she is brushing for a full two minutes.

Correct brushing techniques

You can have your child lie down on a bed with her head in your lap, or you can have your child sit with her body between your legs and her head tilted back into your arms. You can also do this standing in front of the sink with your child’s head tilted back.

Brush the teeth gently using small, circular motions, being sure to include the area where the teeth meet the gums. Start by brushing the outside surface and then move into the inside, brushing the bottom of the teeth last. Remember to use a circular motion. As you assist your child, use a timer so that she can help you track the two minutes.

First Aid

Your child will get bumps and bruises, cuts and sores. It is difficult for a parent to see a child get hurt. It is our natural instinct to protect our children from all injuries, and when we can’t we feel we have somehow failed in our responsibilities.

It is very important to attend to your child’s emotional needs while doing a quick assessment of the injury, moving close to her body and listening for a regular heart beat and breathing to insure these functions have not been compromised. When you have determined no other medical attention is needed outside of ice, a bandage, and/or washing, give your little one a hug, a kiss, and some cuddle time, letting your child know you care and are there to help.

Every parent needs a wellstocked first-aid kit at home and in the car for on the go. Kits for the house and car should be big enough to hold a wide range of supplies. It is important to have the necessary first-aid materials for patching up a wound and calming your little one so you can make the boo-boo better.


1. Place under cold water.
2. If there is no broken skin, apply a burn cream, not petroleum jelly.
3. If there is broken skin, apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage. Call a doctor as soon as possible if burns are on the face, hands, or if they are larger than ¼ inch anywhere on the body.


1. Clean the area of the splinter with soap and water.
2. If the splinter is small and does not hurt, it will make its way out in a few days.
3. If the splinter is big, clean a pair of tweezers with alcohol and pull the splinter out. If the tip of the splinter breaks, you can sometimes nudge out a splinter with the edge of a credit card.
4. Wash the skin again.
5. If the splinter isn’t out after a few days or is causing your child pain, turning red, or has pus, see your doctor to have it safely removed.

Bumps and Bruises

1. Place ice on the bumps.
2. Apply over-the-counter ointments for bruising or muscle aches.
3. Have your child rest.

Cuts and Scrapes

1. Wash your own hands.
2. Wash the cut with soap and water.
3. Pat dry.
4. Bandage the cut or scrape to keep out dirt and germs. If the skin is broken, apply a thin layer of an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment, then cover with a bandage or gauze and surgical tape. Apply pressure to the wound if it is still bleeding. If bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes, head to the emergency room because your child may need stitches. Head to the doctor also if your child’s cut is longer than half an inch, there is something stuck inside the cut, or the cut is on your child’s face because it may leave a noticeable scar if untreated.

* Antibacterial lotion (not petroleum jelly) can help clean the cut and should be applied with each bandage change; however, avoid rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide because they can cause discomfort for your child and slow the healing process.
* Make sure to clean the cut, use an antibiotic cream or ointment, and keep it under a protective bandage. Change the bandage daily. After a few days, remove the bandage and allow the cut to air dry. This will lead to the formation of a scab, which shows the wound is healing. Encourage your child to leave the scab in place as it will fall off naturally and lessen the chance of scarring.