There are a number of things you can do to keep your child as healthy as possible during the much- dreaded cold and flu season.
Here are our top 12 tips to protect your children:
1. Personal Hygiene (Wash your hands and make sure your child does too!)
Although it may seem stupidly obvious, washing your hands with soap can save everyone from catching the flu if we just did more frequently. There’s a common misconception that viruses spread mostly from sharing food and drinks with sick people – as in, if you drink from the same glass of water you may catch the virus through saliva.
However, the truth is, you’re more likely to catch the virus by touching the glass than by drinking the water because our stomachs are pretty good at destroying incoming organisms.
Our nose, on the other hand, is the most common way viruses enter our body and this is through touch. Every day we’re touching a multitude of surfaces, including our face and nose (especially children), So, wash your hands and make sure your child does too! As. Frequent. As. Possible.
Tip: Avoid using hot water. (Although tempting in this cold weather) Because it prevents you from washing your hands long enough to get rid of bacteria. Rather wash with lukewarm water. It is recommended to wash hands for at least 10 – 15 seconds according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Don’t forget soap!
2. Consider the flu shot.
Although it may not give your child 100% protection against the flu it’s worth considering, as it is known to be the most effective way to prevent influenza and it’s complications. This has been a long debatable subject so I leave this point as a consideration…
3. Use hand sanitizers.
If your child is old enough, hand sanitizers are a great alternative to protecting their tiny hands from nasty germs when lukewarm water and soap are not readily available.
4. Teach your child to sneeze or cough into a tissue or into their elbow.
If your child cannot get a hold of a tissue in time, then teaching your child to sneeze into their elbow instead of their hands can help reduce the spread of germs.
5. Teach your child how to blow their nose.
The earlier your child is taught, the better. It takes a lot of practice and patience but they will eventually get it. Getting them used to the idea of using a tissue to clear their nose instead of their fingers can prevent the spread of germs and they’ll also learn along the way that it’s a far more effective way to stop a leaking nose.
6. Keep your child hydrated.
Water is the knight in shining armour when the body is getting attacked by viruses. Besides oxygenating your blood cells and flushing out toxins. Water also helps to thin mucus, so your child can easily blow it out from the nose or cough it up.
7. Choose healthy/well-balanced meals to help boost your child’s immune system.
I write choose, because a surprisingly large number of parents choose to feed their growing children fast food like, fish and chips, chicken nuggets, sandwiches, hamburgers, fried chicken, french fries, tacos, pizza, hot dogs, and ice cream versus nutritious foods like, vegetables, lean meats, beans, grain (cereal) foods, fish, nuts and fruit.
A lot of parents I speak to, say they choose not to give a variety of nutritious foods because their children will refuse to eat or they simply do not have enough time prepare. I say, its never too late to re-introduce food and you will find time if it’s prioritised, because what’s more important then aiding your little children to grow into healthy adults?
Just like everything else, starting a new habit of cooking / preparing healthy meals will take a lot of energy and patience from you. But the benefits of planning healthy meals and leading your children by example are endless. Their growing little bodies need to absorb as many nutrients as it can so it is strong enough to fight viruses and healthy enough to grow both physically and mentally strong.
This video beautifully explains how food affects the brain and body: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyQY8a-ng6g
8. Disinfect your house
Scrubbing areas like the toilet and the kitchen are usually the places we focus on but don’t forget your child’s water bottles, school bags, play area and toys. Give them a bath too! Sanitise surfaces that are often touched like remote controls, door knobs, mobile phones, light switches, windows and refrigerator handles. If you have a pet, make sure to clean their feeding bowls as often as possible.
9. Don’t be a carrier
You can unknowingly pass germs to other children by doing your normal duties like changing diapers, wiping noses, holding hands and preparing food. If hand sanitisers and wet wipes aren’t already your best friends – get accustomed to each other! Besides washing your hands with lukewarm water and soap, hand sanitizers and wet wipes are the 2 besties that should always be by your side.
10. Encourage your child to exercise
Exercise strengthens the immune system. The stronger the immune system, the better it is for protecting and fighting against anything that may weaken your child’s body.
11. Wear a mask (When sick and stepping into public spaces)
Although masks are not particularly effective in preventing your child from catching the flu, it does prevent people who are sick from spreading their germs. So if your child is sick and has to go out, wearing a mask is a great way to prevent spreading germs to others.
12. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.
During sleep, we produce proteins called cytokines, which helps the body fight illnesses, infection, and stress. Studies show that too little sleep appears to impact the number of cytokines produced. So make sure your little ones are getting enough sleep so their bodies will be strong and ready to fight against unwelcome guests.