Aug 30, 2013

Hygiene for Little Muslims

By A. Ali


10 sticky fingers, 10 grubby toes. Food stains down your chin and a runny nose!

Not exactly the kind of lullaby you would like to sing to your bundle of joy, right?

So your precious newborn has grown up and become a boisterous toddler. Long gone are the days of simple milk-vomit messes, your new toddler has a penchant for ensuring their clothes receive more food than they actually eat, and their hands may seem perpetually sticky.

But it does not have to be this way. This messy little human of yours need not actually be, a messy little human. It is vital to ensure that your child learns good habits to maintain good hygiene for their lifetime. The old saying was 'cleanliness is next to Godliness'*. Our Prophet, RasulAllah, sal Allahu 'alayhi wa Salam expressed this centuries before this phrase was coined, in the sahih Hadith:

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Cleanliness is half the faith (Emaan).” [Sahih Muslim]

With some consistency on your part, your child will learn healthy habits that they can carry with them throughout their lives.

Dental hygiene starts before your child has teeth. Use a clean, wet washcloth (not wipes) to wipe their gums from the time they start solid food. Special toothbrushes and toothpastes are available for toddlers. Make 'teeth time' attractive for your child. Sing a little jingle for them as you assist them in brushing their teeth, e.g. "Brush to the left, brush to the right, up and down, and keep your teeth white!". Be consistent and make sure they brush their teeth after every meal and particularly before bed. Dental hygiene is extremely important, as the consequences of not maintaining good oral hygiene are painful, embarrassing and costly.

Mealtimes are usually the messiest times of the day. Always wash your child's hand before and after meals. Place a bib on them to catch any food that misses their mouth. Wash or wipe over their mouths after meals.

When your child is ill, make sure you have some soft tissues at the ready to wipe their nose. Do not be rough when wiping their noise as this can cause the skin around the nostrils to peel and crack.

This may sound obvious, but give your child a proper wash regularly! I have heard of sisters not bathing their children for two weeks at a time! Toddlers may not have a bad body odor, but they do sweat and need a regular wash in the bath or shower. In hotter climates, a daily wash is usually enough. In colder weather, a good wash every other day seems to be appropriate. Use your discretion to determine what is right for you.

Get in to the Sunnah of cutting their nails every Friday. Long nails collect dirt and look awful. Always be careful not to cut their skin, as they tend to fidget and make the task difficult. There are small nail clippers especially designed for little fingers, usually found at pharmacies or baby oriented stores.

Lastly, despite my advice to keep your children as clean as possible, try not to take things overboard. Children can be very messy, and that's just in their nature - do not overburden them by trying to keep them immaculate, as the way of the Muslim is moderate, and not extreme. Have fun!

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experience on helping your child develop good hygiene :) Please post in the comments section below.


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