Preparing for Preteen Hygiene: Five Tools to Have in Your Arsenal

Remember that intoxicating scent of your infant’s head when they were first born? How about that blissful scent of a toddler fresh from the bath, all rubbed down with lotion and squeaky clean? Well, believe it or not, the days of your kids smelling like heaven are short-lived and, in fact, might be gone sooner than you’re expecting. 

One day, you’ll wake up and realize that someone has traded in your delicious-smelling baby for a full-grown, full-blown stinky, greasy, adult-like creature. I was blissfully unaware of how quickly things change until I went on the fourth-grade field trip and was just about knocked on my face by the odor of armpits on the school bus. 

It’s never too early to begin thinking about what self-care items your kids might need as their bodies grow and change. Here are a few handy things to keep on hand to help your preteens navigate their changing bodies: 

Deodorant. Going back to that fourth-grade field trip… I didn’t realize that fourth graders could already have body odor, but it turns out, they can. It was after that field trip that I bought deodorant for both of my kids and gave them the 411 on how to use it. I even put sticky notes on their mirrors to remind them to apply it daily. And, if you’re looking for a more natural alternative, the selection of deodorants out there that do not contain aluminum and other questionable ingredients has improved exponentially in the past few years. With a little trial and error, you should be able to find a deodorant that does the job gently yet effectively.

Razors. While your preteen boys might not need to think about shaving their faces for still quite some time, girls might want to start shaving body parts during prepubescence. I’d recommend a razor with a built-in strip of shaving gel to help ease the sting of razor burn. Think about what kind of razor you might buy your arthritic grandmother and find something similar for a young girl embarking on her first wobbly try at shaving her legs. 

Face wash. Pimples and acne come on quickly once hormones start to do their thing. It’s good to get kids into the habit of washing their faces with a soap or cleanser made specifically for faces to circumvent acne issues. If they seem interested, take it a step further and get them a whole facial care system, complete with face wash, toner, moisturizer, and acne treatment. 

Period supplies. I know it’s hard to imagine if you have a little girl at home, but periods can start arriving at 10 years of age and even younger. (The average age of a girl’s first period in the United States is 12.) So, you’ll want to make sure that you’re fully prepared with supplies for when that time comes. And, what you might use for yourself probably isn’t what would be best for your young girl. In addition to feminine products, there is a range of “period panties” on the market now that can ease the burden of figuring out how things work in the feminine hygiene department. 

Tooth care for braces. Orthodontia might also be in your future. If so, a few special dental tools can greatly improve your preteen’s dental care routine. An ultrasonic toothbrush can help keep teeth clean around brackets and reduce potential staining. Also helpful is a Waterpik, since flossing isn’t easy with braces. Your orthodontist can also recommend specialty brushes and tools to help your child get their teeth clean. 

It happens pretty gradually, this prepubscence thing. One day your child is a rosy-cheeked, curly-haired cherub who smells like freshly baked cookies and then they wake up the next day, dripping oil from every pore and smelling like the line for the port-a-potty at ACL. So, it’s probably a good idea to start your kids on a hygiene regimen early. Let them get into the habit of a little self-care, so that when full-blown puberty hits, you’re not blindsided by the new sights (and smells) of your child. 

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Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two who recently migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry. Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, as well as a contributor for New Braunfels Monthly magazine. She also occasionally blogs about life as a sober mom at www.introvertsguidetosobriety.com.