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Winter is in full force…well here in New York it is! Burrrrr!!! My boyfriend’s nieces keep catching colds, especially from the kids at school. So what are ways to protect your kiddo from the endless germs and viruses they are exposed to every day?

We all get sick as a kid. Slowly, children prime their immunity by battling an ongoing series of germs, viruses, and other organisms — which is why many docs consider 6-8 colds, flu, or ear infections per year normal. BUT, there are healthy habits you can implement that will give your child’s immune system a boost. 🙂

  1. Serve more fruits and vegetables. Carrots, green beans, oranges, strawberries: They all contain such immunity-boosting phytonutrients as vitamin C and carotenoids. Veggies and fruit may increase the body’s production of infection-fighting. Try to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day. (A serving is about two tablespoons for toddlers, 1¼ cup for older kids.)
  2. Increase sleepy time! Studies of adults show that sleep deprivation can make you more prone to illness – the same holds true for children! How much sleep do kids need? A newborn may need up to 18 hours of crib time a day, toddlers require 12 to 13 hours, and preschoolers need about 10 hours.
  3. Breast-feed your baby. Breast milk contains turbo-charged immunity-enhancing antibodies and white blood cells. Nursing guards against ear infections, allergies, diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis, urinary-tract infections, and sudden infant death syndrome.
  4. Exercise as a family. Research shows that exercise increases the number of natural killer cells in adults — and regular activity can benefit kids in the same way. Fun family activities include bike riding, hiking, in-line skating, basketball, tennis – or even just a simple game of tag in the park! My nephews also have wii and you can get fitness games too that are fun for the whole family! Trust me, boxing doesn’t seem hard on the wii, but your body will be hurting!
  5. Wash your hands! Make sure your kids wash their hands often — and with soap. You should pay particular attention to their hygiene before and after each meal and after playing outside, handling pets, blowing their nose, using the bathroom, and arriving home from day care. When you’re out, try to carry Purell for the family. To help kids get into the hand-washing habit at home, let them pick out their own brightly colored hand towels and soap in fun shapes, colors, and scents.
  6. Throw away sick toothbrushes. If your child does get sick, throw out her toothbrush right away. A child can’t catch the same cold or flu virus twice, but the virus can hop from toothbrush to toothbrush, infecting other family members.
  7. Don’t pressure your doc. Many times, worried parents urge their docs to write a prescription for an antibiotic, but most of the time, illnesses are caused by viruses and antibiotics can only cure bacterial illness.

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