The winter is a time often filled with stuffy noses, persistent coughs, and more sick days than anyone really wants. However, if you want to avoid having you and your children get ill this year, below are seven tips that can help.
1. Teach Your Kids Proper Handwashing
Proper handwashing technique is key to keeping your kids healthy during the winter. To make sure that your kids are killing all of the germs they may pick up while they are out and about in the world, follow the following steps:
- Wet hands, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather hands completely, including under fingernails.
- Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds -- tell your kids to sing Happy Birthday or a chorus or verse from their favorite song that is about 20 seconds long.
- Rinse hands under running water.
- Dry hands with a towel or allow them to air dry. (Change towels often)
2. Reduce Their Contact With Potentially Sick People
Having your kids be exposed to more potentially sick people than they need to is not a good idea during cold and flu season. Whether your child goes to a public school or one of the 87% of private schools with 300 or fewer students, you can limit their other exposure to potentially sick people.
- Avoid taking them with you everywhere if you can, like leaving them with their other parent while you grocery shop or run errands.
- When it comes to playdates or other gatherings of kids outside of school, make sure you know how many people will be there and the health of those people.
3. Give Your Kids Immune Boosting Foods
Giving your kids an immune system boost through their diet is a great way to help them not become ill during the winter. Here are three ways to get an immune boost from foods this winter:
- Fruits with Vitamin C. Oranges, strawberries, raspberries, clementines, and other fruits have high amounts of vitamin C that can help boost your child's immune system.
- Garlic. Garlic contains allicin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Garlic can easily be added to a multitude of recipes, so try mixing up your usual recipes by adding some garlic to them.
- Probiotic Yogurt. Probiotics are important in keeping your gut healthy year-round. A healthy gut means a healthy body that is functioning as it should. In addition, some probiotics can produce antibodies to help fight off different diseases. Probiotics have also been linked to a lower chance of respiratory infection.
4. Limit Sugar Intake
On top of giving your children foods that will help boost their immune system, you should make sure you're not accidentally giving them foods that will suppress their immune system. Sugar is fine in moderation, but the overconsumption of sugar may lead to a suppressed immune system that is not able to battle off disease and illness as easy as it usually does. While there are many celebratory events in the winter, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and Valentines' Day, you should try to limit your child's sugar intake to a reasonable amount at one time, especially if you'll be around larger groups of people.
5. Hydration is Key
Keeping your child properly hydrated can really help them to stay healthy during the winter. Dehydration has a negative impact on a multitude of your body's systems, so avoid it by properly hydrating is important.
- For example, being well-hydrated keeps your blood volume at a normal level, meaning that your body doesn't have to work as hard to get oxygen to your cells. If your body doesn't have to work as hard on basic tasks like staying oxygenated, then it can focus on keeping your immune system boosted and healthy.
- In addition, staying hydrated makes you go to the bathroom more, which means that more toxic or foreign substances in our bodies are more likely to clear out without causing any issues.
- There are many health benefits to staying hydrated, and all of them mean that your body will work more effectively and therefore be more able to fight off any disease that your child may be exposed to.
6. Make Sure Your Kids Sleep Enough
Sleep is key to a properly functioning body. When we don't sleep enough, our bodies cannot properly repair and recharge, leading to many negative consequences, like a weakened immune system.
- While we sleep, our bodies have time to produce a protein called cytokines, which you need more of to fight off infections and inflammation. If you don't sleep enough, your immune system cannot create the proper amount of this substance, meaning that your immune system is not working as effectively as it could.
- Make sure you research what the proper amount of sleep is for your child. The amount of sleep a child needs depends on their age as well as a few other factors, so check with your pediatrician or google to find the correct amount of sleep for your child every night.
- Remember that if you or your kids do get sick, you should seek treatment as soon as it is appropriate. If there is an acute onset of symptoms, try to go to an urgent care clinic to get looked at as soon as possible. Almost 75% of urgent care patients were satisfied with their treatment according to a 2016 survey, so you will most likely have a positive urgent care experience as well.
7. Flu Shot
- Yearly flu shots are 60% to 90% effective, and might help your child avoid the misery of the flu.
How do you help keep your kids healthy in the winter? Have you tried any of these tips?
Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn't lost in a book or writing, she's busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.