Hygiene Practices in Childcare

Maintaining hygiene practices in childcare is critical to ensuring a safe environment. Cross infection is always a significant risk due to the number of children being present in the same area.

It is essential therefore, that childcare centres adopt healthy hygiene practices in childcare to demonstrate their commitment to the safety of children attending the centre.

Crucial Hygiene Practices in Childcare

Adopting clear cleaning procedures in a childcare setting is crucial to minimising infection. Some crucial hygiene practices in childcare are:

  • Encouraging regular consistent hand washing and drying procedures for children after all activities.
  • Ensuring that adults model hand washing behaviour for children in an appropriate way.
  • Having appropriate toileting and nappy changing procedures in place.
  • Adopting a rigorous cleaning and sanitising program that will minimise the risk of infection.

Key Aspects of Nappy Changing

A female worker helps a young child out of their dirty nappy

Obviously nappy changing practices can have a huge impact upon the overall hygiene of a childcare centre. Having the appropriate nappy changing and toileting policies in place will go a long way towards minimising the risks. Key aspects of nappy changing are:

  • There needs to be a designated nappy changing area.
  • The nappy changing area should be well stocked with all relevant supplies such as gloves, paper towels, plastic bags, fresh nappies, clean clothes, bin liners and anything else deemed necessary.
  • The hands of the child and the carer’s should be washed after each nappy is changed.
  • The nappy changing table/mat should be washed down with warm soapy water after use.
  • At the end of each day, the entire nappy change area should be thoroughly cleaned with warm water and detergent.
  • Nappy changing procedures are to be clearly displayed in the nappy changing area.

Hand washing Policy while in Childcare

a young female childcare attendee smiles as she washes her hands thoroughly

It is almost universally accepted that hand washing procedures are simply the very best methods of promoting good hygiene. Hand washing policy childcare becomes crucial for all child care centres. When putting together a hand washing policy a child care centre should include the following points

Staff should encourage children to wash their hands in the following circumstances:

  • Upon arrival at the centre to help minimise the risk of germs being brought into the centre.
  • Before handling or preparing food.
  • After being involved in any dirty task, including playing outside, cleaning up spills or wiping noses.
  • Prior to going home in order to minimise the risk of transferring infection from the centre to the home.

In addition, centres need to make sure to incorporate the following:

  • A sufficient number of hand basins should be supplied to allow hygienic hand washing to occur
  • Proper hand washing procedures should be displayed prominently in all wet areas
  • Hands should be dried properly to ensure germs are not spread
  • Both staff and parents alike should be encouraged to model good hand washing and drying practices and this includes childcare work experience workers.

Cleaning Procedures in a Childcare Setting

Cleaning procedures in a childcare setting should be rigorous and aimed at minimising the risk of infection at all times. In order to achieve this cleaning procedures should cover the following areas:

  • Appropriate procedures should be in place to cover the cleaning of toys and equipment with safe procedures.
  • Properly documented procedures for the cleaning of floors and other surfaces. These procedures should include authorised cleaning products and defined minimum cleaning periods for floors and benchtops (daily), walls and ceilings.
  • Clear instructions for staff to maintain hygiene standards after cleaning spills, cleaning up bodily fluids or wiping children’s noses.
  • Properly designated colour coded sponges and wipes for designated areas i.e. yellow cloths for kitchen and blue cloths for laundry areas.
  • Prominently displayed documentation for various aspects of cleaning including such items as nappy changing, toileting, handwashing, spot cleaning, regular cleaning, head lice checking and laundry procedures.
  • A cleaning procedures and hygiene checklist should be used.

In Conclusion

Good hygiene practices in childcare start with a commitment from the childcare centre to implement good hygiene policy.  This alone is not enough. Ultimately good hygiene practices comes from a commitment from all parties to practicing good hygiene practices both at the childcare centre and in the home. Families can help with the adoption of good hygiene practices  by modelling and practicing simple hygiene procedures like proper hand washing and drying at home.