Keeping kids (relatively) germ-free

Young children love to explore, get their hands dirty and put almost anything into their mouths. When you pair this level of curiosity with a young immune system that is still developing, it’s not surprising that many toddlers and pre-schoolers fall ill quite a few times in a year.

While no parent – no matter how meticulous – can ever create a completely germ-free world for their children, it is important to take a practical and informed approach to keeping your little ones safe and healthy. Here are some simple steps that you can take to minimise the chances of your kid getting sick (and passing these germs onto the rest of the family).

  • Wash hands well

Teach your child to wash hands after going to the bathroom, playing in the park, spending time in public places and coming home from school. It is very important to wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds – making sure to scrub front and back, between each finger and around the nails. Do not make the mistake of using wipes as these can’t clean fingernails as well as good old fashioned soap and water. Be sure to use a fresh towel or a paper towel to dry your child’s hands.

If you have a reluctant hand-washer to deal with, you could use a rewards chart and offer a star or sticker for every well-executed hand wash. Tower kids has a great range of bright, fun charts that come complete with stickers.

  • Be germ smart

When your little one is down with a cold or the flu, teach him or her to cover coughs and sneezes to prevent spreading germs. Ideally, sneeze into a tissue or the crook of an elbow and not into the hand, unless it is washed immediately.

Tell your kids to be aware of other children who are coughing and sneezing; and to avoid sharing toys, drinks and food with these kids while they are sick.

  • Clean toys that are shared

If your child is at pre-school or day care, chat to your teacher or carer and ask whether the toys and surfaces are cleaned and disinfected daily. If not, politely point out that they should be doing so on a regular basis to prevent germs from spreading through the class.

Perhaps you could club together with the other parents to share the extra cost of cleaning products, as well as fresh tissues and wipes to ensure there is always something handy to wipe a runny nose.

  • Label water bottles and lunchboxes

One of the easiest ways to spread germs is by sharing bottles, cups, cutlery and food. One way to prevent sharing and curb germs from spreading is to clearly label your child’s water or juice bottle and lunchbox. MyTowerLabels offers an easy way to design and buy your own personalised, fully waterproof labels online. They also include shoe labels in the range, to be sure your little one doesn’t swap shoes with a friend by mistake and potentially pick up a fungal infection.

  • Be kitchen smart

When you’re prepping a meal for your family, be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods. These ingredients can contain bacteria, so never let your little one touch raw meat and always wash your hands thoroughly after handling it.

  • Spend time outdoors

You may be tempted to keep your child indoors during winter, but is very healthy for kids to play outdoors – unless the weather is very cold, wet or windy. Being outside ensures children get plenty of fresh air and vitamin D from the sunlight, which helps to boost their immune systems. Of course, it is never a good idea to play in the direct sunlight for too long without sunscreen and a hat.

For more information, ideas and inspiration, visit