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The ABC of Child Care: N is for …


N is for…

Nappy changing, toilet training and a little bit of hygiene!

Universal hygiene precautions are used primarily in medical and health-related professions but are also relevant to children’s services. They assist care professionals in minimising the risk of cross infection and providing a basic level of infection control.

Some of these practices, which are relevant to children’s services, are:

  • Handwashing;
  • Using protective products and equipment, such as gloves;
  • Safe handling and disposal of body fluids;
  • Safe storage of materials that have come into contact with body fluids;
  • Hygienic cleaning practices of the centre and all equipment; and
  • Maintaining a hygienic environment.

The maintenance of rigorous hygiene practices is necessary because of the incidence of common infections in child care services that are spread through person-to-person contact and through contact with contaminated surfaces. The susceptibility of young children to infection as they build up immunity, and the unhygienic behaviour of young children aid the spread of infection. It is important for staff and families to understand how infections spread and how infections survive within the environment if hygiene procedures are not carried out appropriately and maintained regularly.

As well as enquiring about hygiene practices, parents should also speak to child care providers about provisions made for children both in nappies and when ready to toilet train.

Nappy changing

  • What procedure do staff use for nappy changing?
  • How often are nappies changed?
  • Who supplies the nappies? Which brand is used? Which brand of baby wipes is used? Does the centre have a nappy rash cream which they apply as necessary?
  • Is the nappy change location easily accessible to the playroom? Is there a clear line of sight or good visibility between these areas?
  • Is the nappy change area clean and well organised?
  • Do nappy change procedures minimise the waiting times of the children who are waiting their turn?
  • How are nappy changes managed when children are playing outside? (ie. if staff need to leave the outdoor area to go inside to change a child, how does this impact supervision of the children remaining?)
  • How is the nappy change area cleaned? Is it cleaned following each use?
  • What is the procedure for changing a child who has soiled clothing?
  • Are children assisted to wash their hands after each nappy change?
  • What is the procedure for bathing a child when necessary?

Toilet training

  • How many children’s toilets does the centre have? Are these child sized to encourage independent use of the toilet?
  • Are toilets easily accessible from the play room? From outside play areas?
  • Is the bathroom or toileting area clean?
  • Is a potty available for children who prefer to use a potty?
  • Are children taught to wash their hands after using the toilet?
  • What is the procedure for changing a child who has soiled clothing?
  • What is the procedure for bathing a child when necessary?

Staff should work closely with parents and children in supporting toilet training once it has begun at home. Close contact between staff and parents assists to ensure a consistent, positive approach to toileting is used, eg. is the child using a potty or the toilet at home? The toilet training process should be unstressed and encouraging to the child, with positive feedback used to ensure a feeling of accomplishment. Staff should remind and assist children who are toilet training and respond calmly to toileting “accidents”.

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