Hygiene and Infection Control
It’s never too early to start practicing good hygiene habits with young children. Children learn a great deal by copying the behaviour of their parents, caregivers and their peers. The best way to teach children about good hygiene is to make sure we practice good habits ourselves.
Strategies to prevent transmission of infection include:
- Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing or eating food, after using the toilet, changing nappies, after blowing your nose, and after any contamination of the hands with body fluids such as blood and vomit.
- Effective cleaning with detergent and water, followed by rinsing and drying, will remove the majority of germs from environmental surfaces.
- Display good hygiene and hand washing posters and other information to remind everyone about the importance of minimizing the transmission of infections.
- Include information about hygiene and infection measures in your welcome pack, playgroup policies or guidelines and communications with playgroup members.
Tips for maintaining good hygiene at playgroup
Allocate someone at playgroup to be responsible for checking supplies of cleaning materials and replacing them when necessary. It could also be worthwhile to have a cleaning roster system where someone is responsible for taking home items to wash.
- Washing our hands is the simplest, most effective way to ensure good hygiene. Washing hands before eating or handling food, after changing a nappy, using the toilet, using a tissue or sneezing/coughing etc. is good practice to get into early on.
- Teach little ones to “catch coughs and sneezes” in a tissue or their elbow (and don’t forget to bin the tissue after each use).
- Attend to spills – mop up kitchen mess, paint/glue spills etc. with different sponges than used on food preparation surfaces.
- Dispose of used tissues, soiled cloths and nappies.
- Clean up bodily fluids with disposable gloves.
- Regularly clean and disinfect all kitchen, toilet, bathroom areas, tables and door handles.
- Wash toys regularly with warm soapy water and then leave to air or pop them out in the sun. Many playgroups hold a ‘toy wash’ where little ones get involved in washing all the toys together (this is a fun messy play activity too!).
- Note: soft or plush toys can be difficult to sanitise as they absorb fluids and are often not washable (so better to avoid at playgroup).
- Provide clean tea towels, hand towels, paper towels and sponges.
- Wash and store all crockery, cutlery and food containers adequately.
- Sweep, mop and vacuum after every session.
Ways to support children to understand the importance of good hygiene
- PlayKids has a fun video on teaching little ones to cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing. Watch it here.
- Make hand washing fun with this Wiggles Hand Washing Video
- A fun and easy way to encourage children to get into good hand washing practice could be to get them to sing the “happy birthday” song while soaping up their hands and then getting them to rinse their hands once they’ve finished singing.
- Include hygiene activities in your playgroup routine.
When children or adults are sick
Playgroup WA recognises that there are times throughout the year that are more prevalent to colds and viruses. To reflect this position, we recommend playgroups have policies or guidelines requiring families to abstain from attending playgroup if their child is unwell.
If adults or children are unwell then they should not attend playgroup. Sick children are generally not able to participate happily, and you run the risk of exposing the other children and adults unnecessarily to viral and bacterial infections.
Infectious and Communicable Diseases
Playgroup WA recognises that there are times throughout the year that are more prevalent to colds and viruses. To reflect this position, we recommend playgroups have policies or guidelines requiring families to abstain from attending playgroup if their child, or the adult, is unwell.
Advise playgroup families to contact their GP or the Health Department when a child has an infectious disease such a chicken pox, rubella or whooping cough. They can advise of the minimum exclusion time from playgroup. Information about exclusion periods for communicable diseases can be found at the Health Department’s website. Families might also want to notify the Health Department when a child or adult has an infectious disease such as chicken pox, rubella or whooping cough.
Remind playgroup families that it is important to exclude children while they remain infectious to ensure the wellbeing of others at playgroup, especially those in high risk categories such as babies too young to be immunised, children with poor immune systems and pregnant women. Ask members to clean toys that have been salivated on (cough, sucked etc.) to limit the spread of disease.
Playgroup WA Resource Links
- Covid-19 Resources - this page on the main Playgroup WA website is regularly updated and has relevant to Covid resources
- Immunisation Statement