The time has come when your baby girl is growing and starting to become more independent. Questions you might never have asked before now come to mind as you go about raising a new little human being.
If you’re the father of a baby girl, you might never have had to worry, for example, about wiping female genitals.
If you’re a woman, you’ve probably never given too much thought to the proper technique for wiping correctly after going to the toilet.
Whether you’re a father or a mother, now you have a daughter, this is one of the questions that arise, as you want to make sure you teach her how to wipe herself in the correct way.
Here are a few tips for teaching girls about wiping correctly after using the toilet.
How to teach a girl to wipe front to back
Potty training boys and girls is slightly different.
The main but less obvious difference is that a little girl should take more care about wiping front to back than a little boy.
The reason behind this is that women’s urinary sphincter, the opening where urine comes out, is less protected than the opening to boys’ urinary tracts. When it comes to wiping girls’ genitalia, doing it front to back matters.
Let’s see why teaching about wiping front to back is so important:
When going to the bathroom to pee or poop, everyone – whether child or adult – wants the process to be as clean as possible. The idea of a dirty toilet, or not having toilet paper, or the possibility of washing afterwards, is not appealing to anyone.
Wanting to have a clean bottom and genitalia is very normal. It applies to everyone with a healthy mental capacity, no matter their age.
Do you remember how your little one used to make sure her carers knew she had done a dirty nappy? Even at such a young age there is teachings well as learning going on in the school of life. Children teach their parents many lessons from the very beginning – even before they’re born.
No human being, whether an adult or a baby, feels comfortable sitting in their own waste.
Young girls are no exception. When they are first learning to use the potty, a very important step is to learn how to wipe the genital area.
When the girl is potty training or starts to use the toilet, wiping is a learning process. She will probably wipe while sitting on the potty and she might have a little problem with her own waste. From there she might want to wipe while standing and that’s also okay. One way to help her learn how to wipe sitting down is by putting water in the potty and having her sit and practice wiping front to back without getting her hand wet.
When woman void, the best anatomical position to adopt is a squatting position. In that natural position, the genitalia naturally remain as clean as possible. When we pass urine while squatting on a natural surface we hardly get any urine on us, unless we pass urine on a hard surface that doesn’t absorb it straight away.
The first toilets were simply holes in the ground and that helped to maintain the anatomical position of the urinary tract when voiding. The sit down toilet is relatively new and, although it has made our lives easier, it’s the reason why we needed to invent toilet paper and wiping.
When women and girls squat to pass urine the urinary tract is straight all the way down. When they sit down to pass urine, the voiding process is altered, as the lower abdomen, pelvic floor, and genitalia are in an artificial position. Sitting down to pass urine for women has been the final step in adding difficulty to an otherwise natural process.
This evolution in the position women adopt to pass urine has altered the process and has made us adapt to the new position. Wiping has become necessary and mothers now have to teach their daughters the importance of wiping front to back.
#3 Number 1
When we were nomads and we wore clothes just to protect us from the cold, women and young girls didn’t wipe themselves with anything artificial. They hadn’t invented toilet paper, child wipes, or wet wipes, back then, but that was because there wasn’t a need. Teaching girls how to wipe front to back wasn’t even on their mothers’ agenda, as they didn’t wipe themselves at all or, if they did, they used the back of their hand.
Because they didn’t have underwear, the last urine drops leaving the urinary tract slowly drained out of their labia.
Now, when a little girl goes to the bathroom just to pass urine, she should learn to wipe from front to back. This should happen when wiping any part of our body. We wipe from front to back or from the inside to the outside so as to take any bacteria away from, or outside of, the opening of the body – whether it’s a wound or a natural opening in the body.
The reason a little girl needs to be taught to wipe from front to back is to make sure she cleans her vulva and does not place any additional bacteria on it.
#4 Number 2
When we poop, the importance of wiping front to back might be clearer. That’s what we teach kids. This is especially important for girls, so that no bacteria is brought from the gut into the vulva.
The bacteria in the anal area are always present. Even after washing ourselves, minutes later the bacteria are there again. Their job is to keep the anus and rectum protected from other bacteria.
The same thing happens with girls’ and women’s vaginal bacteria.
Rectal bacteria know their place and don’t travel to the vulva on their own. Wet wipes and toilet paper, however, can act as evil transport agents if women and girls don’t wipe front to back.
Research shows that vulvovaginosis can be a result of incorrect wiping, when a woman or little one doesn’t wipe from front to back.
It takes 21 days to make a habit. Mothers should teach their little girls how to wipe properly from front to back. They should remind them each time the little girls go to the toilet, explaining why it’s important and even watching while they wipe themselves.
We all know practice makes perfect so let your little girl do it herself, even if she makes big messes at the beginning. With a little bit of practice, she will master her wiping technique in no time.
When should I stop wiping my child?
All parents should teach their kids independent bathroom habits.
All children, whether girls or boys, should be taught to wipe their own bum from an early stage of life. It might be a good idea to start at the same time the child begins to sit on the potty.
Explain to your kids the importance of wiping themselves properly after doing a poo and also after having a wee. Teaching young children to go through the whole process properly from the very beginning tends to be the easiest way; once they acquire the habit, it will stay with them.
If you’re a parent who wipes your child after she goes to the toilet, start teaching her to do it for herself as soon as possible. It makes little sense to wait any longer if your child is already diaper free.
Teaching children something new shouldn’t be hard. Try to keep it light and make it fun. Make it a good part of her daily routine and praise her achievements. Talk positively and reassure her every time she uses the toilet paper correctly and wipes herself front to back. Watch when she does it and be supportive when she doesn’t get it right.
Teaching kids a new skill that will be useful for their whole life should be a rewarding job. After mastering this skill, children will feel proud and secure when going to the toilet on their own. A healthy learning environment is always a positive sign of a healthy relationship.
You can read more in Potty Training – 5 Steps For Potty Training Success and What Happens When You Are Potty Training?
Why is it hard to wipe front to back?
The way we usually wipe anything is by reaching as far back as needed and wiping towards us, towards the front.
The only reason it’s hard to wipe from front to back is because of our position and the toilet bowl being on the way.
This is the reason why it’s so important to teach kids to use toilet paper from the front towards the back. It’s only normal if no one teaches you otherwise to wipe from the back to the front. The main reason why women and young girls risk getting genital infections is they wipe toilet paper past the genital openings.
Wiping from front to back in little ones is important even when they wear diapers or while practicing elimination communication.
How much toilet paper should a girl use to wipe properly?
This is a common question parents ask. It is common because it’s probably not something they have heard about before.
I remember when I was a student midwife I was doing a postpartum visit to a family who had just had their fifth baby. There was a toddler – a little girl – who was starting to use the potty and as the mother was busy with the midwife she asked her partner to bring some toilet paper for their little one to wipe herself.
A moment later he appeared with a huge ball of tangled toilet paper. It was clear that teaching his daughter wiping tips was not his role in that family.
The amount of toilet paper a woman should use to wipe herself really depends on each individual and on the number of layers the toilet paper has. I’d suggest taking three to five pieces of paper and folding them in half several times until they are the size of just one piece. Wipe yourself from front to back, then fold it in half once more and wipe yourself again.
Do you feel you’re wasting paper? Next time use a bit less.
Did the paper break when you wiped yourself? Do you feel you need a bit more? Then act accordingly.
Just be mindful of the amount of toilet paper you will use in a lifetime and try to reduce waste as much as possible. The smaller amount of toilet paper you use each time, the better; always use enough, though, to feel you’ve wiped yourself properly and you’re dry.
Should you sit or stand to wipe?
This is another question you might not usually ask. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to position yourself to wipe yourself after going to the toilet.
What do you prefer? What feels best for you?
You probably don’t do it the same way 100% of the time. It’s quite common for women to wipe sitting down when they’re in their own bathroom or in a clean private toilet. The same women might choose to stand up when wiping themselves in a public toilet as they don’t usually want to put their hand into a public toilet bowl.
Each one of us has her own preferences and ways of wiping after using the toilet. As long as you do it front to back there isn’t a right or wrong way – just your way. The way you feel most comfortable doing it is probably the way your parents taught you when you were a little kid yourself.