Self-care · Under Ones

Baby Hand Washing

When my baby, B, was first born, I was a bit dumbfounded as to how exactly to get his hands clean. At first I settled for wiping them down with a warm wet washcloth or, when that was too difficult, a disposable wet wipe. He’d still have crud stuck between his chubby fingers, so I sometimes swirled his hands around in bowls of warm soapy water. This hand bath method worked well and, although a bit physically awkward, it was easier than washing his hands in running water.

When B was able to sit with support around 6 months, I made him a little hand washing station. The materials I used were:

  • A small stool purchased at Goodwill with the seat that opened up for storage removed
  • A small mixing bowl or 5×7 loaf pan to fill with warm soapy water
  • A towel to hold the bowl in place inside the stool
  • A small mirror also purchased at Goodwill
  • A donut pillow for sitting support

With B’s legs tucked under the stool and and bowl nestled inside the stool, everything was stable enough that I could leave B to wash independently for a few minutes. Smiling at himself in the mirror, he would splash and splash, and coincidentally clean his hands and face quite thoroughly.

Some notes:

  • B would get himself and everything around him very wet when using the station
  • A plastic bin or metal pan would work just as well in place of the stool

When B was 6-9 months, this station fit his developmental level. He was able to:

  • Practice sitting independently
  • Learn to recognize himself in the mirror
  • Study reflected objects and movements in the mirror
  • Learn to enjoy independent work
  • Experience interesting physical sensations
  • Begin to internalize the importance of hand washing

Now that B is nearly 10 months and working on standing, a standing station is a better fit for his development. Stay tuned to learn how we made a standing station in my upcoming post on Toddler Hand Washing!

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