Prevention and cure

Toddler health hot spots

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Healthy Toddler

Feet

Close-up of toddler's feet
  • Let your tot go around barefoot indoors (make sure your floor is clean and safe). This encourages their feet to develop properly.
  • Choose comfy, lightweight shoes with flexible, non-skid soles for outdoors.
  • Have their feet measured every six to eight weeks because they’re growing rapidly at this time.
  • Make sure your child’s socks fit — tight socks can damage
    feet, too.
  • Keep an eye on toenails and always cut them straight across
    the top.
  • If you notice something is wrong with your child's feet or they’re walking strangely, talk to your health visitor or GP.
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Urinary/Genital

Close-up of toddler's pelvis
  • Keep the genital area clean and use a barrier cream to prevent nappy rash if needed. If you notice a rash, let them go around with their nappy off and ask your health visitor for advice.
  • Watch out for threadworms. They look like little white threads (hence the name) in the bowel motions. Your pharmacist or health visitor will be able to suggest treatments.
  • Seek medical advice from your health visitor or GP if your child is frequently constipated, has loose stools or blood in their stools.
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Skin

Close-up of toddler's hand
  • Make sure your toddler washes their hands after going to the toilet. Do the same yourself, and also after changing their nappy or blowing your nose.
  • Wipe your child’s face and hands gently before and after eating. Be careful of their delicate skin! Don’t use baby wipes all the time.
  • Keep your toddler’s nails short.
  • Give them a daily bath, dry them well and apply body moisturiser if needed.
  • Smooth on a sunscreen in summer, with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 15, and dress them in light, loose clothes and a hat.
  • Always put on more sunscreen after your child has been in water.
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Hair

Close-up of toddler's hair
  • Keep your tot’s hair clean and brushed or combed.
  • Make hair washing a game for your little one — and prevent tears at bath time by using a shampoo shield.
  • Watch out for head lice (‘nits’). You may see them on your tot’s hair close to the scalp. Your pharmacist or health visitor can advise you on the best products to get rid of them.
  • Comb your kid’s hair with a ‘bone comb’ (a fine-toothcomb) at least twice a week to prevent any major head lice infestation.
  • Supposedly preventive shampoos and sprays do not really prevent head lice.
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Lungs

Close-up of toddler's chest
  • Never smoke in your child’s presence and don’t use aerosols or plug-in air fresheners as these may aggravate lung problems such as asthma.
  • Ensure your little one gets plenty of fresh air.
  • Encourage regular activity to exercise their young lungs.
  • Check with your doctor or health visitor if your child develops wheezing, coughing (especially at night) or shortness of breath, or complains of pain or tightness in the chest. These are all symptoms of asthma.
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Teeth

Close-up of toddler's mouth
  • Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled children’s toothbrush. Use a peasized blob of 1,000ppm fluoride to prevent cavities — special children’s toothpastes don’t contain enough fluoride.
  • Do the main brushing yourself until your child is at least seven. Don’t rinse their mouth out with water — just let them spit out toothpaste residue so they keep fluoride in the mouth.
  • Let your child see all the family brushing their teeth.
  • Replace worn-out brushes.
  • Take your child with you to the dentist so it becomes a normal event.
  • If your tot complains about toothache, take them to the dentist — not one to be feared!
  • All NHS dental treatment in Scotland is free for children up to the age of 16. Contact your local health board for details of NHS dentists in your area.
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Eyes

Close-up of toddler's eyes
  • Avoid risk of irritation by never smoking around your child.
  • Consult your health visitor or doctor if your tot seems to have problems with their sight. Clues include squinting or cross-eyes, closing or covering one eye, rubbing their eyes a lot, or if your family has sight problems.
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Ears

Close-up of toddler's ear
  • Your toddler’s ears are self-cleaning. Never poke a cotton bud into them!
  • If you spot your tot tugging or holding their ears, it can be a sign of ear infection.
  • Contact your doctor if your child is in pain, irritable or has a discharge from their ear. An ear or hearing problem may cause speech and language difficulties.
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Last updated: 17 October 2012
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