How to Explain Germs to Toddlers: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Germs? What germs?

It's hard enough to explain things a toddler can see, much less something he can't. When you remind your little explorer not to put his hands in his mouth because of germs, he may look at you as if you just explained nuclear fusion. Fortunately, unlike nuclear fusion, you can explain germs to a toddler. And, the best way to do it is get a little dirty with a fun, educational experiment.


  1. 1
    Talk to your toddler about things he can't see, but knows are there. Air and smells are good examples. On a sunny day as the sun shines into your home, show him the dust floating in the air. If you have a microscope, put items, such as a leaf or dust bunny, underneath to see all the intricacies of the items that you normally can't see.
  2. 2
    Compare germs to dust, air and smells. You can't see them, but they are everywhere and they travel. And, to see germs, you'd have to put them under a very powerful microscope. Explain that germs are too hard for you to show him, even with your microscope, but you can show him some pictures of germs you found online or in a book.
  3. 3
    Explain that some germs are bad for you. A toddler is likely too little to understand that germs can be good or bad, so focus on the bad for now. "A lot of germs are bad and yucky. Even though you can't see them, they can get in our bodies and make us sick."
  4. 4
    Put a spoonful of white flour in his hands and tell him rub them together. Then, have him touch your shirt. "Oh, look, some of the flour got on my shirt. Now, let's shake hands. It got on my hands, too. I'm putting my hand in my mouth now. Guess what's in my mouth and going into my body? Flour! That's exactly what germs do. They travel and work their way into our bodies." Allow your child to play with more flour and touch things to demonstrate how easily germs can spread. When finished, wash his hands and the items with the flour on them. He can help clean the germs away with baby wipes, too.
  5. 5
    Stress the importance of washing your hands. "Just like the flour went bye byes after we washed them, so do germs when we wash them away with soap. And, because germs can be anywhere, we should not put our hands, toys and other things on our face or in our mouth without washing our hands first. This is why Mommy has you wash your hands before eating, just in case some you touched some yucky germs somewhere. Mommy wants to keep you well."

Things You'll Need

  • Microscope (optional)
  • Leaf or dust bunny (optional)
  • White flour

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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