Consumer Health: Children and good hand-washing habits

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it's that frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness.

Keeping hands clean can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Help children stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands frequently, and make it a family affair. Young children learn by imitation, so be sure you are following good hand hygiene practices.

Wash your hands with your children to show them how it's done. And if you need a refresher, Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, offers a demonstration on hand-washing.

Make hand-washing fun by singing the "Happy Birthday" or "ABCs" songs twice as a guideline of the time required for good technique. Hang this poster in the bathroom, and download the accompanying coloring sheet. If a child can't reach the sink on his or her own, keep a step stool handy.

Hand-washing is an important part of preventing illness. Adopting this habit can keep you and your family healthy.