You probably thought you wouldn’t have to talk to your daughter about feeling not-so-fresh until at least puberty, but think again. Feminine hygiene is something that you should actually be thinking about when your little girl is still in diapers. You don’t have to go running off to the drug store for feminine products just yet — you just need to know the proper way to wipe your toddler to prevent health problems.
Obviously, anatomy differs between boys and girls. You may not have realized, however, that this puts little girls more at risk for health issues than little boys. According to BabyMed.com, a girl’s internal system is less protected than boys, and improper care is more likely to result in infections. Proper wiping is one way to help reduce the risk.
If your little girl is still in diapers, keep soft, damp cloths handy for wiping on your changing table or in your diaper bag. Commercially packaged baby wipes are a good option because they come conveniently ready to use. They are damp, soft, have a mild detergent, and when you’re done with them you can dispose of them. Another option is to dampen a wash cloth. If your daughter is potting training, you can use dry toilet paper throughout the day. At least once per day, however, or after particularly messy bowel movements, you should use a damp cloth for a proper cleaning.
When you wipe a little girl, KidsHealth.org warns that it is important to wipe in one direction only: from front to back. Never wipe from back to front, or back and forth. This can spread harmful bacteria and result in urinary tract infections or bladder infections. If you move to the front for a second, or even a third swipe, be sure to use a clean wipe or piece of toilet paper.
It’s important to teach your daughter how to wipe herself the right way from the start of potty training. Baby Zone recommends teaching her to pat her vagina dry first, then show her how to wipe from front to back after a bowel movement with a clean piece of toilet paper. You may need to get another piece to wipe again, front to back, to make sure she’s clean until she gets the hang of it. Let her try, though; she needs to practice the move so she can master it herself. One day when she’s off to preschool or a friend’s house, she may have to do it on her own. Giving her the proper skills from an early age will ensure she can handle the job, even without you.