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Hand washing is an important hygiene step both for your children, but also for you as a responsible parent. From the moment you have your baby, you must take extra care to ensure that you don't pass on infections unnecessarily, or indeed let anyone else pass on germs. There are lots of germs that can be passed from touch including common cold, infectious diarrhea and flu, including the strains of swine flu circulating the world at the moment.
Don't be embarrassed if you want friends and family to wash their hands before handling your baby - it may seem trivial but there's nothing silly about such a request, and no one could consider it rude if they really think through the consequences. If you are embarrassed about asking, just say that your health visitor or paediatrician insists on this level of hygiene.
Always wash your hands after changing your baby, and as children grow older and go to the toilet themselves, make sure that they always wash their hands. Lead by example and make sure that you always wash your own hands after going to the toilet, and your children will follow suit. Make sure that your children can reach the sink - buy them a plastic step so that they can reach the bowl and the taps, and buy them kids' soap in a squeezy dispenser - this will make hand washing more fun and encourage them in the pursuit of cleanliness!
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