Did you know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older, and that nearly 70 percent of American ages 18-49 didn’t get the flu shot last year!
I have had the worst flu and now a cold for the past 2 weeks – it has really kept me down. I think I caught something at my niece’s 2nd birthday party playing inside the bouncy house for 3 hours with her (I couldn’t resist!). Here are some tips on how to prevent your kids getting the flu and colds this winter:
1. Get the Flu Shot! Why?
- You can’t afford to be sick. Do you really want to spend a week or more violently ill, missing work or scrambling for child care? “Even if your child is vaccinated, he could still bring the virus home from school or a playdate, and you’ll be exposed.
- You’ll protect your unborn baby. If you’re prego, new studies show that getting the shot will give your baby antibodies that will guard him for months after he’s born. That’s key since infants under 6 months old can’t get the vaccine, and they’re at higher risk for serious flu complications.
- Your kids’ protection isn’t as strong as yours. Even if your children are vaccinated, their immunity fades faster than yours, so your shot offers an extra layer of protection during that time. It will also make it a lot easier for you to care for them if they do get the flu.
2. Wash hands well
Make your child lather up with soap and water after playing outside, using the bathroom, and coming home school or day care, as well as before each meal. Carry hand sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
3. Prescribe sleep
A lack of sleep nearly doubles the chances of getting sick. So make sure your child is regularly getting enough zzz’s, and set an earlier bedtime if your child has been around someone who’s sick.
5. Bundle up
A British study found that getting chilled while cold and flu viruses are circulating may triple your chances of getting sick.
6. Discourage eye- and nose-touching
Otherwise, you really up your chances of infecting yourself after getting germs on your hands. The enzymes in our mouth provide some defense against germs, but the eyes and the nose don’t have that kind of protection.
7. Teach proper coughing
Encourage younger children to “catch” their cough in their bent inner elbow, not in their hand. Older kids can be taught to act like they’re holding a cape across their face like Dracula. Teach your children to immediately wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.
8. Disinfect away.
Germs can live for hours on inanimate objects. Target toys, doorknobs, remote controls, handrails, tables, books, light switches, crib railings, faucets, the toilet handle, the telephone, the diaper-pail handle, and more.
9. Ban sharing.
Most of us know that we shouldn’t use the same cups, toothbrushes, or eating utensils. But did you know that you should give sick family members a separate place to store their toothbrush, and their own towels or paper towels for hand drying? Even give your sick child his or her own toothpaste.
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