Health care for children and youth
- A parent’s guide to the participation of children and teens in medical education
- Health research in children: What parents need to know
- International adoption: Health issues for families
- Making treatment decisions for babies, children and teens
- Paediatricians in Canada: Frequently asked questions
- Planning care for children and youth with serious medical conditions
- You and your child's doctor
Health information on the web
- Dieting: Information for parents, teachers and coaches
- Dieting: Information for teens
- Feeding your baby in the first year
- Food allergy vs. food intolerance: What is the difference and can I prevent them?
- Food safety at home
- Healthy eating for children
- Healthy snacks for children
- Iron needs of babies and children
- Nutrition for your young athlete
- Vegetarian diets for children and teens
- Vitamin D
- When your child is a picky eater
- Avoiding infection: What to do at the doctor’s office
- Growing up: Information for boys about puberty
- Growing up: Information for girls about puberty
- Handwashing for parents and children
- Healthy bowel habits for children
- Healthy sleep for your baby and child
- Healthy teeth for children
- Physical activity for children and youth
- Physical activity for children and youth with a chronic illness
- Skin care for your baby
- Teens and sleep: Why you need it and how to get enough
- When is my child ready for sports?
- 5-in-1 vaccine
- Chickenpox vaccine
- Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (dTap) vaccine
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- HPV vaccine for girls
- HPV vaccine: What teens need to know
- Influenza vaccine
- MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccine
- MMR vaccine: Myths and facts
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in babies: A guide for parents
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in children and teens: A guide for parents
- Rotavirus vaccine
- Vaccination and your child
Handwashing for parents and children
Why is handwashing so important?
Germs are always collecting on your hands—when you open doors, wipe children’s faces, play with toys and change diapers. You can't avoid germs, but you can reduce the chance of passing them to others by washing your hands often.
Washing your hands and your children’s hands is the best way to stop the spread of germs. Teach your children to cover their nose and mouth with tissues when they sneeze or cough, or to cough into their upper sleeve or elbow.
When should parents wash their hands?
Wash your hands before:
- preparing or eating food.
- feeding your baby or child (including breastfeeding).
- giving medication to your child.
Wash your hands after:
- preparing food.
- changing a diaper.
- helping a child to use a toilet.
- using a toilet yourself.
- wiping or blowing your own or your child’s nose.
- taking care of a sick child.
- handling pets or animals or cleaning their cages or litter boxes.
- cleaning around the house.
When should children wash their hands?
It’s important to help young children to wash their hands to make sure it is done well.
Children should wash their hands before:
- Eating or handling food.
- Water play.
Children should wash their hands after:
- Using the toilet.
- Playing outdoors or in sand.
- Playing with pets or animals.
- Sneezing or coughing into their hands or blowing noses.
Four steps to proper handwashing
- Wet your hands under running water.
- Scrub your hands well with soap. Remember to scrub between your fingers, to wash both the front and back of your hands, and to clean under your finger nails.
- Rinse your hands under running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel.
When water and soap are not available, use pre-moistened hand wipes or alcohol-based hand rinses. Keep hand rinses out of the reach of children because they may be harmful if swallowed.
How should I wash my baby's hands?
- Wash your baby’s hands with soap and a warm, wet, fresh towel (either paper or cloth).
- Rinse the baby’s hands with another fresh, warm, wet towel.
- Dry the hands well.
Is there anything else I should know about handwashing?
- Don’t use a single damp cloth to wash a group of children's hands. Each child should get a clean cloth.
- Don’t use a standing basin of water (such as dirty dish water) to rinse hands.
- Don't use sponges or non-disposable cleaning cloths unless you change them daily and clean them using detergent. Germs thrive on moist surfaces.
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Public Education Advisory Committee
Last Updated: December 2012