Coronavirus is here, and one thing we’ve heard every day is the importance of washing your hands. But are your kids washing the right way – and enough? Cooper University Health Care Pediatrician Stacey Hammer, MD, has tips for getting your kids to wash their hands thoroughly and often.


Make it a Game

Kids are reward-driven, says Hammer. If you turn washing their hands into a game – packed with prizes – you’re more likely to get your kids completely engaged in the activity.

Hammer recommends setting up a chart with prizes like TV time and snacks. “You can make it so they get a star or check-mark every time they wash their hands, and after three days in a row of doing it for 20 seconds, they get a prize.”


Forget “Happy Birthday”

Even though the CDC recommends singing Happy Birthday or the ABCs to be sure you’re washing your hands long enough to be effective, Hammer knows some kids may get bored of that dittie quickly.

She recommends choosing your child’s favorite song or favorite show and timing out 20 seconds to play while they wash away. You can also buy fun soaps to make the activity more exciting.

“You need something to keep them distracted while they’re washing so they’ll spend enough time on the activity,” she says. “Turn it into something fun, something they can look forward to.”


Wash YOUR hands

Whenever Hammer meets with a patient, she always makes sure to wash her hands in the room and talk to the child while she’s doing it – and she recommends parents do the same. “Young kids love to model their parents,” she says. “Wash your hands with your child and encourage them to follow along. You can even turn it into an activity you do together.”


Explain Why We Wash Our Hands, Especially Now

Even outside of the COVID-19 spread, it’s important for kids to understand the importance of hygiene. Hammer recommends using the CDC website as a tool to help kids learn how to wash their hands in a fun and engaging way – like in the video below!



Soap and Water is Best

Whenever possible, Hammer urges families to wash hands with soap and water, especially before and after you eat, when you’re leaving the house and after using the bathroom. If that’s not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best thing.

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