Hand Washing 101
Back when my daughter first started preschool, she used to get a low-grade fever nearly every other weekend. We were warned that it would take a while for children to build up their immune systems, so we were concerned, but not overly. But, it got to the point where she had a 103* plus temperature just about every weekend. After taking her to the urgent care repeatedly, having her diagnosed with UTIs (urinary tract infections), and noticing a reoccurring diaper rash we were beyond concerned. Prior to entering daycare, she had never had a diaper rash! Then she broke out with little blister-like bumps on her feet and hands which turned out to be hand, foot, mouth disease. Well, HFMD is spread through feces and contaminated objects: such as toys. Parents all know how diaper rash happens. Ladies, we know how one gets a UTI. All of these issues were a result of lazy diaper changes and lack of hand washing amongst staff and students.
My daughter was eighteen months old when we first enrolled her. (I couldn’t stay at home with her any longer and not lose my sanity, but that is a whole other blog post.) We used a little step stool in her bathroom so that she could wash her hands before and after meals and after using the toilet when we started potty training. I know that with supervision and assistance she was more than capable of washing her hands. After my husband and I realized that her fevers were not just a result of her building her immune system we went in to talk to the director of the preschool. I spent ten minutes explaining the trips to urgent care, the HFMD, and diaper rashes. Then I asked if there were hand washing protocols in place. She said, “The children are not developmentally able to wash their hands at this age.” That is verbatim what she said! I couldn’t believe it!
Needless to say, I began searching for a new preschool immediately, especially since one of her classmates was diagnosed with a staph infection on her buttock that had to be surgically removed because it had gotten so bad. There was a wonderful lab school at a local university that was very highly recommended, but they had a waitlist. I called them nearly everyday to see if a spot had opened up. Not lying. While waiting for a spot to open up, I brought in packs of wipes for the staff members to use to wipe the kid’s hands clean because I didn’t see a sink in the classroom. Turns out the door that I thought was a closet was an actually bathroom with toddler-sized toilet and sink, but it was being used to store toys! That’s disturbing on so many levels! When a spot finally opened up at the lab school I was beyond happy!
The picture above is a shout out to the local Chick-fil-A that provides a step stool in the bathroom to help the little kiddos wash their hands. Thank you! Thank you for not making parents juggle their purses, diaper bags, and children while washing hands. Thank you for acknowledging that toddlers are developmentally able to wash their hands when they can reach the faucet. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated. Thank you!