Hygiene plays a crucial component of a baby's overall care. Practicing a good hygiene is extremely important to keep your baby happy and healthy all the time.

Eight essential hygiene rules for your baby. Here are eight simple good hygiene practices to adopt when you have a baby.

  • Washing your hands with a good antibacterial soap is essential for removing harmful bacteria and germs that cause colds, flu, diarrhea and other infections. Be sure to dry your hands properly and wash your hand towels regularly. It's especially important to wash your hands before feeding your baby, after handling raw food, after changing a nappy or going to the toilet yourself, after touching pets, after touching anything dirty such as dirty nappies, rubbish or food waste.
  • You don't need to clean the house every day from top to bottom with disinfectant, you just need to pay particular attention to the surfaces that are most likely to harbour germs and bacteria. Focus on the areas that have a lot of contact with food, bodies and hands, such as bathrooms, kitchen benches, tables, crockery, cutlery and glassware. You need to be cleaning these properly. Use hot water with detergent for crockery, cutlery and glasses, while kitchens and bathrooms will need a thorough clean with a good disinfectant. Pay particular attention to taps, toilet seats, benches and door handles. Dry surfaces as well if they are not in a well-ventilated area with natural light.
  • Babies love to put things into their mouths, and toys are often the closest thing to hand. Be sure to regularly give your child's toys a clean with a good disinfectant. Wipe hard plastic toys down and make sure you rinse them thoroughly or put plush toys through the washing machine.
  • A good bath is essential for keeping your baby clean and tidy, but you need to make sure you are not over-washing as this is damaging to your baby's sensitive skin. In the first year of your baby's life a full bath is necessary only two or three times a week. Check out our step-by-step guide to bathing your baby.
  • These are three areas that need some special attention. Always keep your baby's nails well-trimmed so that they can't scratch themselves — the best time to trim them is when your baby is asleep. Be sure to use baby-sized nail clippers and not to cut the nails too short as these will hurt your baby.
  • Only wash the outside of your baby's ears, never the inside, and never insert cotton wool buds into your baby's ears. If your baby is unhappy and touching their ears repeatedly, this could be a sign of infection — be sure to get this looked at by a medical professional.
  • Clean any dried mucous from your baby's nose, as this can cause difficulty breathing. Use a damp wash cloth to gently remove the dried mucous. A nasal syringe may be needed to help remove excess mucous, but consult your baby's health practitioner before using one of these.
  • Be sure to keep your baby's eyes clear of any dried mucous. Use damp cotton wool to gently clean their eyes and seek medical attention if you notice your baby's eyes are irritated.

What your 4-year-old child should know

What your 4-year-old should know

When it comes to academic achievement for pre-school children, have we lost the plot?

The post What your 4-year-old child should know appeared first on Living and Loving written by Marianne McDonald .

What your 4-year-old should know

When it comes to academic achievement for pre-school children, have we lost the plot?

The post What your 4-year-old child should know appeared first on Living and Loving written by Marianne McDonald .

What your 4-year-old should know

When my son turned 4, he came home with a report from school. Skills were marked from one to three and a comment given or each skill. Some of these included counting, number recognition and vocabulary. I was so proud of every comment and evaluation, except the fact that he had trouble concentrating during morning ring. What did this mean, I wondered. Was it something that would cause him to fall behind later on? As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to succeed and be happy, but at such a young age these two ideas are not always compatible – or so it may seem.

Nadia Kahn, a pre-000 teacher at FasTracKids in Johannesburg says she feels strongly that children develop at different paces and that they shouldn’t be put under pressure to achieve. “Most children will show an affinity for certain things. This could be music or numbers, but they may be less advanced in aspects like drawing or balancing on one leg,” she explains.

ALSO SEE: Does my child need speech therapy? Look out for these signs

Learning through play

“It’s so important that children aren’t pressurised at this young age. They have a natural affinity for learning and this should be encouraged through play,” says Nadia. In other words, the moment there is pressure and stress, the enjoyment your child gets from learning evaporates. “Your child’s brain is open and we want to keep it that way for as long as possible.”

ALSO SEE: 5 benefits of imaginative play

While parents and teachers need to assess whether a child is meeting milestones to rule out any developmental issues, Nadia says it should all be taken with a pinch of salt – especially when your child is so young. “Whether your child is counting to 10 or counting to 20 when he reaches his 4th birthday – both are OK,” says Nadia. Your child’s positive attitude towards learning and participation in activities will mean he will learn everything he needs to, when he needs to. But, by placing pressure on this child, all the fun is taken out of the activity and his stress response may be to avoid the very activities he needs to be immersing himself in to improve. At this age, she says, you want to be building confidence rather than breaking it down. Numerous studies have shown that literacy achievement is rooted in early childhood experiences with activities such as bedtime stories, having books available in the home, and engaging in literary activities with older family members.

ALSO SEE: Moms share their best books for bedtime reading 

A positive inner dialogue

Peggy O’Mara, the author of Natural Family Living , explains that, “The way we [parents] talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” And this is particularly true of the first 6 years of their lives when their brains are most “plastic”. Nadia uses the example of a child who comes to school and doesn’t readily participate in tidy-up-time. When asked why he isn’t helping, he explains that his mom told him he doesn’t know how to do it properly, so she would do it for him. “Your child won’t do everything perfectly, but he needs to be encouraged so he can keep trying and participating, which really is the only road to success,” says Nadia.

ALSO SEE: Age-appropriate chores for kids 

What your 4-year-old should know, or be beginning to understand:

  • Counting and number recognition
  • Letter recognition and being able to recognise his name when written out
  • Secondary colours,
  • Days of the week
  • Tenses such as yesterday, today and tomorrow.

But what your child really needs to know beyond these fundamentals are psycho-emotional. These are far more beneficial in the long run since learning should be about play at this foundation level.

Your child should know:

  • He is loved unconditionally
  • He is safe
  • It’s OK to make mistakes
  • It’s OK to make a mess
  • How to be silly and use his imagination
  • He is free to follow his interests.
  • Spending time outdoors digging in the dirt or picking leaves and flowers is as important as practicing numbers

More about the expert:

Nadia Kahn is a teacher and mother of two girls. She currently teaches preschool children at FastTracKids preprimary in Johannesburg and believes strongly in learning through play.

The post What your 4-year-old child should know appeared first on Living and Loving written by Marianne McDonald .

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