It’s that time of year again – fall flu season and nasty colds. With the kids going back to school it almost seems inevitable that your child will catch a little something that leads to coughing, running nose and a cold. Here are some great tips of how you can make your child one of the healthiest in his or her class!
Keep Hands Clean
Regular hand-washing dramatically reduces the passing of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, so get your kids in the habit of scrubbing up (or using a hand sanitizer) when they leave preschool or day care, after every playdate, and before they eat. Teach kids to sing “Happy Birthday” to themselves twice before rinsing — scrubbing for 15-20 seconds is key. Spray kitchen counters, doorknobs and sink handles with disinfectant once a day and remind your child to wash her hands frequently. Covering coughs and sneezes. Teach your youngsters to sneeze and cough into their elbows, rather than onto their hands. Hands will more likely touch toys and other children.
Exercise & Activity
Encourage a healthy lifestyle for your children, and you. A healthy diet, exercise (including playing safely outdoors while wearing sunscreen), and a good night’s sleep go a long way towards preventing illness. Studies indicate that regular, moderate exercise can reduce the number of cold and flu episodes that occur over the course of a year by 25-50 percent, possibly by boosting the circulation of infection-fighting cells. “Exercise is better than any advertised cure or miracle,” says Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., Parents advisor and author of Germ Proof Your Kids: the Complete Guide to Protecting (Without Overprotecting) Your Family from Infections (ASM Press, 2007).
Make sure kids stick to an early bedtime. Most babies need approximately 14 hours of sleep a day; preschoolers need 11-13 hours of Z’s.
Avoid Touching His or Her Face
Try to avoid rubbing eyes, noses and mouths with dirty hands. However, most of us do so unconsciously — that’s why hand washing is so important. Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the nose, eyes, and mouth, so help your child keep her hands away from those areas. Yes, it can be very difficult to accomplish — hand-washing at strategic moments is all the more important. Teach your child never to share a straw, cup, or toothbrush.
Balanced and Healthy Diet
Meals with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables will help boost your child’s immune system. Look for foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli, strawberries, and oranges) and vitamin D (tuna, fortified milk, and cereals). Eating yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can also help build defenses. Breastfeeding also helps a child build a strong immune system. A study in the August 2009 “Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics” showed that children age three to five who were given the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis lactis had fewer fevers, coughs, runny noses and absences from school. If they did get sick, the children got better more quickly and didn’t need antibiotics as much as the children studied who were not given the probiotics.Children who weren’t breastfed get five times more ear infections later in life than those children who were, according to the MedlinePlus online medical encyclopedia, so breastfeed her for as long as possible.
Avoid Sharing Food at School
Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils. Pre-schoolers finger-dip and double-dip, so to each his own.