Washing hands -- How clean is too clean for your kids?

Opinions vary on child hand cleanliness

INDIANAPOLIS - Young children aren't thinking about germs when they're interacting with each other and handling toys, and there's some debate about how important insulating them from germs really is.

Germs are everywhere, flowing from noses and hiding on hands, and it's up to teachers and parents to manage hygiene.

"I don't personally wash his hands a lot, but if my husband is around, like, we come in the door, we wash his hands, and right before dinner, we wash his hands," said mom Becca Woolf, of Indianapolis.

"We usually do washing and Germ-X of the kids' hands as often as we can," said Natalie Keating, a teacher at St. Susanna School in Plainfield.

Some research cautions that if caretakers over-clean and sterilize, the immune systems of children won't mature.

"When you first introduce children to childcare, they pick up a lot of bugs initially, and then their immune systems are kind of more robust because they've been exposed to those germs in the past," said Melissa McMasters, a nurse at the Marion County Health Department.

McMasters recommends that parents keep their kids' hands as clean as possible, whether with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Though a little dirt won't hurt, too many germs can jeopardize the health of a child and others around that child.

When washing hands, duration is important. Often, singing the "ABC Song" with a child while washing is a good way to time it out.

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