While the peak of this flu season is winding down, it doesn’t mean we should let our guards down when it comes to the seasonal flu and other germs that so often come during the cold months. Here are six simple things to keep in mind to keep the kiddos healthy (and mama happy!)
- Vaccinations – Staying up to date on preventive medicine is the best way to fight a cold or flu. The Center for Disease Control recommends all children receive the flu vaccine each year. If your child does contract the flu, get to the doctor within 48 hours of the symptoms appearing, so that the doctor can administer Tamiflu. This can be especially important for children with compromised immune systems and other health issues.
- Hydration – Staying hydrated is really important during the winter months when your body is working full-time to stay warm and drying out your skin in the process. Allowing yourself to get dehydrated opens you up to illness because water helps transport nutrients to your cells and helps get rid of toxins. To figure out how much water to drink, divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water.
- Good nutrition – Nutrient dense food provides our bodies with a mix of vitamins and antioxidants that can help boost your family’s immune system. Try to eat a ‘rainbow’ of colors when it comes to fruits and vegetables and incorporate good fats like nuts, seeds and fish. Dark green and bright orange are a smart focus for winter. This includes foods such as spinach, carrots, oranges and broccoli.
- Hand washing – It’s such a simple thing, but it’s a life skill that must be taught correctly. Encouraging kids to rub soap all over both hands, use warm water, and teaching them to dry properly ensures your kids are clean and sanitized. Studies have found that washing your hands regularly can reduce respiratory illnesses, such as colds, by as much as 21%. Get your kids into the habit of washing their hands at a young age and encourage them to do so anytime they touch a door handle or surface that others might have touched. While this won’t prevent all illnesses, as some are airborne, it will help reduce the risk.
- Hand sanitizer – It’s not a foolproof answer but it does come in handy when there is no bathroom to wash hands. In the winter, I tend to avoid taking my kids to mall play areas and large shopping centers when the flu is at an all-time high.
- Achoo! – Little kids sneeze all over everything, spreading potentially bad germs to their classmates and family. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teaching children to sneeze into a tissue or their elbow to help stop the spread of germs.
Keeping your family healthy this winter might seem like an impossible task, but with a bit of education and a lot of determination, you can avoid some of those nasty bugs that are floating around.