Anyone who has children will tell you that cold and flu viruses are practically unavoidable at this time of year. Schools, public transport services, and daycare centers are hotbeds of germs after all, and children’s' immune systems take years to develop properly.
During the colder months, it can seem like your kids' noses never stop running, and that you’re powerless to prevent it. However, there are ways you can safeguard your kids against coughs and colds and minimize their risk of illness. Here are five tips to help your children stay in peak health this winter.
Wash Their Hands
The most effective way to protect your kids from infection is to remind them to wash their hands regularly – that is, after they get in from outside, before they eat, and before touching their mouths or faces. Ensure they clean their hands thoroughly with soap for at least one minute, and teach them not to rub their eyes or nose as this can spread bacteria. If your child is old enough, show him how to catch a sneeze in a tissue or the crook of his elbow, as this will stop germs spreading.
Encourage Healthy Eating
Diet is an essential component of good health, and foods rich in vitamin C can help strengthen the immune system and fight off infection. Encourage your child to eat healthily and consume lots of fruits and vegetables, focusing on key vitamin sources like blackcurrants, oranges, and kiwi fruits. Just be wary of your child sharing food with others, as this will spread germs faster if an illness is present.
Get Them Outdoors
Sunlight boosts vitamin D stores, which are vital for immunity, so get your child outside for some fresh air even when the weather isn’t ideal – you can bundle him up in scarves, hats, and gloves if you live somewhere cold. Daily exercise is also crucial to your child’s wellbeing, so make sure he or she is active for four to five hours per day, whether indoors or out.
Give Them a Flu Shot
Influenza can lead to complications like pneumonia and respiratory infections, which can be fatal. Therefore, it’s important that your kids have an injectable flu vaccine to protect them from the flu. The shot is usually injected in the arm for older children and adults, and in the thigh muscle for babies and toddlers. The flu season spans October through May, and can peak at any time during these months. For more information about the flu vaccine, you can read this article.
Stock Your Medicine Cabinet
Although prevention is always better than cure, everyone gets sick from time to time, and young children are more prone to common illnesses than most. Therefore, it makes sense to stock your medicine cabinet with these essentials: Pediatric Tylenol and Advil, over the counter decongestants, antihistamines (for allergies), cough medicines, milk of magnesia (for indigestion or stomach ache), and chamomile lotion for burns, bites, and rashes. It’s also a good idea to keep a cold compress in the freezer to bring down a temperature and make sure you have a thermometer and medicine spoon or syringe for babies and toddlers.