Hand Washing 101

Teach your tot how to get her little mitts as clean as possible:

1)
Keep a sturdy stool beside the sink (positioning it to the side sometimes makes it easier for a child to reach the faucet).
2)
Turn the water on for her (it'll be awhile before she'll be able to get the temperature right).
3)
Show her how to get her hands wet first, and then start sudsing up.
4)
Have her sing the "Happy Birthday" song through twice while she scrubs.
5)
Help her rinse her hands thoroughly.
6)
Make sure the hand towel by the sink is clean before she dries off.

Essentials for Healthy Toddler

Playdates. Nursery school. The ability to get her little hands into anything. Add it all up, and you've got a toddler who's at risk for picking up just about any germ on the planet. Short of building a big glass bubble around your house, there's not much you can do to keep your child from catching a cold--or worse--now and then. But with these essentials on hand, you can keep sick days to a minimum.

VITAMINS
Your pediatrician will tell you what specific vitamins and minerals to look for in an over-the-counter multi. They come in all sorts of shapes, colors, and flavors, so you shouldn't have a problem finding one that your tot will gobble down. (Note: If your town doesn't have fluoridated water, your pediatrician will probably prescribe vitamins with fluoride added, so you won't need to shop for an OTC version.)
HAND SOAP
The absolute best way to keep illness-causing bugs at bay is frequent hand washing. The absolute best way to get your child to wash her hands is to make it fun. So: Buy hand soaps with kid-appeal--yummy scents, colorful bottles (yes, even if they clash with your powder room decor, it'll be worth it!), soaps that dispense clouds of foam.
HAND SANITIZERS
These will not, we repeat, will not take the place of a good scrub with soap and water, but they will come in handy in a pinch--especially as a second-tier defense against bacterial infections. If you choose one that's alcohol-based, make sure it's at least 60 percent alcohol. There are also hand sanitizers that claim to kill germs with natural ingredients. Whichever you use, teach your tyke to rub her hands together vigorously, until they're dry, so that no chemicals are left on her skin that she could ingest.
STOOL SOFTENER
Toddlers are notorious for getting, shall we say, backed up: They turn up their little noses at fiber-rich foods, get shy about pooping in public potties, hold it just because they're too busy playing to take care of business. If occasional constipation becomes a problem for your kid, check with her doctor: It may be a good idea to keep a stool softener around: A flavorless powder that you can mix in with juice or milk is ideal.
SUNSCREEN
Yes, we know: Sunscreen won't prevent illness. But it will protect against sunburn, which if severe can cause fever, chills, and pain. More important, sunscreen now will greatly reduce your child's risk of skin cancer. Look for products that are easy to apply (spray-on lotions are great for the body, sticks are perfect for faces), have an SPF of at least 15 and protect against both UVA and UVB rays (look for "broad-spectrum" on the label), are PABA-free, and have a chemical-free block, like titanium dioxide. Headed to the pool or beach? Choose a waterproof formula.
Finally, keep yourself as healthy as possible. Any bug you pick up will easily make its way to your child. And if you're feeling lousy, you'll both miss out on the quality time that makes life with a toddler such a joy.