Hesperian Health Guides

Toilets for Children

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 7: Building Toilets > Toilets for Children

Children have a high risk of illness from poor sanitation. And while adults may live with diarrhea diseases and worms, children can die from these illnesses.

When children have toilets they feel safe using and have an easy way to stay clean, they get sick less. Pit toilets can be dangerous and frightening for small children because of the darkness and the large hole. Many children, especially girls, leave school because schools lack safe toilets.

Allowing children to help build toilets and teaching them about illnesses caused by poor sanitation helps them develop healthy behaviors.

2 boys walk near 2 toilet shelters labelled "Boys" and "Girls" as a girl washes her hands at a nearby tap.
Every school should have safe toilets and a way for children to wash hands after using them.

Helping small children stay clean

All feces carry harmful germs, and handling them can cause serious illness in children and adults. In rural areas, parents can help children too small to use a toilet by making a hole near the house and adding a handful of soil after each use. It is also important to:

A child wiping after defecating.
  • Wash babies and young children after they defecate.
  • Wash your hands after handling babies’ feces.
  • Bury the feces or put them in a safe toilet.
  • Wash soiled clothes away from drinking water sources.

Teach boys and girls to wipe or wash carefully, and to wash their hands after using the toilet. Girls especially should be taught to wipe from front to back. Wiping forward can spread germs into the urinary opening and the vagina, causing bladder infections and other health problems.