How to Teach Personal Hygiene for Kids

By Sher Warkentin in Healthy Feeling

Let's face it: kids aren't born with natural tendencies to clean up after themselves. Just like teaching kids how to put their toys away and clean their rooms, learning personal care practices helps children become responsible adults—not to mention that they'll feel a whole lot better! Check out these tips on personal hygiene for kids to help you get started.

The Importance of Personal Hygiene for Kids

Learning to care for their body while they're young is crucial to helping kids develop healthy habits. Even in the early years (when it can feel like more work to teach them than to do it for them), giving them the tools to build these foundational skills will make a lasting impact and give them ownership over their bodies.

From washing hands to brushing teeth, building a personal care routine has many components. Every age is a little different and brings its own challenges. Still, beginning with basic hygiene activities for kids and giving them more responsibility as they grow makes all the difference.

A toothbrush in a bathroom.

Oral Care

Helping kids build a healthy oral care routine can begin before they even have teeth. Gently cleaning your baby's gums with a soft-bristle toothbrush or clean washcloth before those pearly whites pop through can help acclimate them to the feeling of brushing.

Once their teeth emerge, your little one will be ready to transition to using toddler toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends using a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice since toddlers are still learning to spit after brushing. Choosing a toddler training toothpaste made with naturally derived ingredients can help you feel more comfortable until your child masters this skill.

As your toddler grows and takes on more personal hygiene responsibilities, it can become a little more challenging to keep up the routine. But maintaining consistency and establishing habits before their adult teeth arrive is essential. If your child needs encouragement to brush, try making it more exciting with a silly brushing song or by selecting a toothpaste with enticing flavors.

Skin Care

Bath time can be one of the most rewarding times of the day with your baby; you can spend time bonding one-on-one while your child splashes and plays. It's also an essential stepping stone in developing personal hygiene for kids as they mature. Introduce a washcloth and gentle cleanser as your toddler grows so they can get used to the idea of bath time being part of a normal wash routine. When your kid eventually transitions to showering, remind them what areas of their body need cleaning and how to properly wash their hair so they can begin to manage these tasks independently.

As hormones kick in and they begin to participate in more physical extracurriculars, showering more frequently might become necessary. Using a gentle cleanser or soap made with naturally derived ingredients can help ensure that sensitive skin is cared for, even if your child overdoes it with the suds. Make sure they also establish a facial skin care routine and understand how to care for oily skin, acne, or other normal hormonal changes they might be experiencing.

Deodorant Use

Deciding when to start using deodorant will depend on your child's individual development and growth. However, beginning the practice on the earlier side can help avoid any embarrassing situations that might arise once body odor has fully set in. If you're concerned about the products your kid is using on their still-developing body, look for a deodorant made with naturally derived ingredients that you can both feel comfortable with. Scent can play a significant role in choosing the right deodorant. Have your child try a few different options until they find something they like. This will help them feel more comfortable using it and give them ownership over their own personal care.

Father teaching child how to wash hands.


Developing good handwashing skills is essential, starting from an early age. Washing hands helps protect the health of everyone in your household. Try practicing proper handwashing techniques with your toddler in a fun way. Singing a song while you scrub is a great way to make it exciting and keep them washing for the recommended amount of time—at least 20 seconds.

It can also be helpful to try some fun science experiments illustrating how germs work and how hand soap helps kill bacteria. That way, your child will understand the why behind the importance of washing hands. Start teaching these skills early to establish habits that become second nature as they grow up.

Helping kids develop these personal hygiene skills from an early age helps prepare them to care for themselves independently as they become young adults.

To learn more about teaching your kids to develop a healthy lifestyle, check out these creative ways to get your kids moving.

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Why It's Good

Teaching your child about personal hygiene at an early age helps daily care practices become habit as they grow into a teen and an adult.