Frequent hand washing is so important to our hygiene that it’s great if we can make it fun. And for young children, simply being able to do real activities independently is fun – especially when water is involved!
My friend, Dave, creates awesome custom tools and tool adaptations that make building and doing other physical work more accessible. When you think about it, the Montessori ‘practical life’ work for young children is similar: we adapt normal adult materials, so that young children can use them independently, thus enabling them to do the work that brings them satisfaction and healthy development. With only the rough sketch below, Dave made me a beautiful, practical, and tiny station for hand washing. Thanks, Dave!
With these dimensions, the table is a great size for my large nearly-one-year-old as well as his average-sized two-year-old cousin. And despite being pretty small for his four-year-old cousin, she enjoyed using it too.
When my babe B uses the station, he has a lot of fun splashing, so he makes a bit of a mess. To minimize clean-up, we generally use the station around another messy event, for example we’ll do the following:
- Strip down B to his diaper or undies (see Baby Toileting)
- Fill the wash stand dish with warm soapy water
- Let B splash to his heart’s desire
- At the table, offer B a messy snack such as hummus or kefir with a spoon to feed himself
- Back at the wash stand with the same water, let B do more hand washing
- Dry-off B and the stand with a washcloth and dump the water
- Change his diaper and re-dress B
This is a lot of developmentally-appropriate fun for B, and when done in this order, it’s no more trouble for me than a diaper change plus wiping down a few surfaces.
Before B could stand, we had a sitting hand washing station. If you missed it, check out Baby Hand Washing.