Handling Hygiene with Kids

Jul 10 - Handling Hygiene with kids

“My mother never hires a maid with small children,” says a friend of mine, “She thinks they are dirty; constantly smelling of their infants’ and toddlers’ waste on their clothes, as their hygiene is poor.”

I recall an incident I witnessed back in my own childhood. We were at a private swimming pool, when a few mothers caused a furor. A boy aged 3-4 relieved himself outside the pool. The boy’s mother, without any mortification, calmly walked him to the toilet as he continued to poop, marking their path with droppings. Everyone at the scene duly expressed what they thought of the mother’s ‘potty’ training skills. As for us, children, we were just grateful he decided to ‘go’ before getting into the pool.

It is not just uneducated women, who have low standards of hygiene with their children, is it? Even educated mothers need training about maintaining overall cleanliness after they have a baby – in their persona, home and environment. Getting dirty in cleaning up is a mandatory part of a mother’s life, especially during the first three years post-baby. There are no two ways about it – it is her job and she must know how to get it done effectively.

Doing away with hang-ups

Just like medical students must give up any queasiness in handling blood, human flesh, organs or cuts, new mothers, too, must give up innate abhorrence to human waste and body excretions.

In order to bring up a healthy and happy child, a mother must accept the fact that from now on anything that comes out of her baby’s body has to be cleaned up by her: spit-up

milk, nose goop, vomit, earwax, saliva, excreta – you name it. When a mother happily accepts this as part of her ‘job’, she can move past it quickly and efficiently.

As Muslim women, we should ultimately believe in and hope for the great reward promised by Allah (swt) for doing this so-called ‘dirty’ work. We will be rewarded not just for efficiently rearing a clean baby, but also for upholding the high standards of Taharah (purity) and cleanliness required by Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim)

Read relevant literature

Issues of Taharah need to be understood in-depth by reading Islamic literature on its do’s and don’ts. Websites, such as askimam.org and islam-qa.com, answer everyday questions about hygiene issues regarding children, e.g., what to do if a child urinates on its mother’s clothing? Does washing a baby’s excreta invalidate Wudhu?

Sheikh Uthaymeen replied to this question as follows: “With regard to changing a baby’s diaper, if you mean the act of changing in itself, this does not affect the validity of one’s Wudhu. If you mean that it involves touching something that is Najis (impure, i.e., the baby’s urine and stools), this does not affect your Wudhu either, because there is no connection between touching something Najis and the validity of one’s Wudhu. There is scholarly consensus on this point. All one has to do is wash one’s hands to get rid of any Najis material.

“If you mean that it involves touching the child’s private parts: whether the child is a boy or a girl; in the case of a child under the age of two years, the rulings on Awrah (that which is to be covered) do not apply, as the scholars have stated. So if you touch them, this does not affect your Wudhu. And Allah (swt) knows best.” (Islam-QA.com)

Make use of modern cleaning resources

Gone are the days of cloth diapering and hand-washed clothes! Now, new mothers can avail resources that maintain hygiene and purity, from waterproof cot mattresses and sheets, to wet wipes and ‘breathable plastic’ diapers, hand sanitizers and baby bath gels, to fully automatic washing machines. Also, cleaning materials, such as absorbent sponges, flannels and scented floor wipes, help a lot during potty training a couple of years after the birth, in which ‘potty accidents’ regularly need to be cleaned up!

Here are a few tips, regarding how a mother can clean up leakages efficiently:

Wet bed

During the first few months, when a first-time mother is learning the ropes herself, she might be too exhausted to change the baby’s diaper before falling asleep, having to face a wet baby, bed sheet and mattress in the morning.

  1. Change the baby’s clothes first. Put on a clean diaper and dry clothes; feed him/her, then proceed to the next step.
  2. Take the sheet to the tap. Wash just the wet area of the bed sheet with running water. Do NOT immerse the entire sheet in a pail. The urine on the wet portion should be drained away completely, using a minimum amount of running water.
  3. Once the wet spot has been washed, purity is restored. Wring it dry. You can wash it further with soap/detergent, if you wish. You do not need to wash the entire bed sheet.
  4. As a precaution, place a large rubber mat covering the entire mattress to prevent it from getting soiled in case of leakages. You can place the bedsheet over this rubber mat.

Soiled mattress or carpet

Remove any solids (feces or vomit) with dry tissue first; then, discard the tissue in the toilet. An absorbent, damp cloth should then be used to clean the soiled patch on the mattress/carpet thus:

  1. Wash the cloth with water under a tap, wring, and rub the patch; repeat this, until the stain is considerably gone, and the soiled area on the carpet/mattress has lost its smell.
  2. Mix enough detergent in some water and repeat the process: wet the cloth in the soap-water, rub the patch, rinse the cloth, wring; wet, rub, repeat. Eventually, the patch of carpet/mattress will be thoroughly clean and pure.
  3. Once it has dried, prayer can be performed on it, Insha’Allah. Using an absorbent cloth to rub the area repeatedly ensures that the excreta are completely removed.

On the go:

Some items are essential for mothers of babies and toddlers on the go: wet baby wipes, changing (waterproof) mat, some extra diapers, small plastic bags (for waste disposal), a plastic bottle filled with tap water, tissues (or a tissue roll) and hand sanitizers.

Make your children wash their hands before and after eating; make them use the toilet in such a way that after they are done, an onlooker cannot tell that it has been used. Tell the boys never to urinate while standing and always wash themselves after answering the call of nature. If they are old enough, they can have small aerosols of air fresheners in their toilets to use.

As mothers of the next generation, we have to leave no stone unturned in inculcating high standards of cleanliness and purity in our little ones from day one, whether, we are in our private spaces or in public.

“Allah is clean, and loves cleanliness.” (Ibn Majah)