Winter is the season for holidays, decorations, and snow. But, it is also the cold and flu season. Keeping healthy during this time of the year can be tricky, especially with children. Some tips you might use are bundling up, eating healthy, and remaining active, but it is possible to forget the lesser-known pieces of advice below that help prevent us from getting sick in the colder months of the year.
- Wash hands often: Whenever you are out in public or touch some germ-hot spots, such as your cell phone, ATM machine, or anything on a table in a restaurant, give your hands a quick, but thorough wash. Not near soap and water? Always keep hand sanitizer in your purse, bag, car, etc. Teach your child to sing the “Happy Birthday Song” twice while washing hands.
- Proper sneezing etiquette: This tip can be hard to learn, at first. Most kids will sneeze on everything without covering their mouth. The proper etiquette: sneeze into a handkerchief, tissue, or into your elbow. The same positions apply to coughing, as well.
- Hold off on the cold medicine: Try to get better by drinking lots of liquids, eating well, and getting some rest. But, for some people, doubling up on medicine at the first signs of a cold is a habit. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents not to give children under six years of age over-the-counter cold medicine. Antibiotics aren’t prescribed for colds and flu, because they are viral and not bacterial. An antibiotic will only help if your child is sick with a bacterial infection.
- Quarantine sick kids: When your child is sick, keep them away from others and keep them home from school and extracurricular activities, if needed. Colds and the flu can sometimes spread like wildfire, and once one child is infected, the rest of their class or team is, as well. Give them time to heal and get better before going back to their normal schedule.
- Change your toothbrush: One of the worst places for germs to hide is, unfortunately, in your toothbrush. After you get over a cold, the flu, a sore throat, or sinus infection, buy a new one. Don’t want to keep running to the store during the winter? Stock up on toothbrushes to keep on hand.
- Get your Flu shots: It is important to get flu shots annually. Make a point of getting your family’s shots at the beginning of the season.
- Make sleep a priority: This is sometimes easier said than done. Winter is in the middle of the school year, and things are in full swing. With a packed schedule, it can be hard to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep for adults and 8–10 hours for school-aged kids. When your body lacks sleep, your immune system doesn’t work as well. Try to keep your schedule less hectic and stressful, and make sleep a priority. Having trouble going to sleep at night? Magnesium oil and other essential oils help people unwind. Talking with your doctor can also give you ideas for getting more sleep.
- Don’t forget about your skin: The winter months can take a toll on your skin. They can dry it out with the colder temperatures and lower humidity. Moisturize daily and use sunscreen when going outside. For best protection, use lotions that are in jars, not bottles with pumps. Research has found the pump lotions contain more water, drying out your skin.
- Dress appropriately and stay warm: Jackets, gloves, hats, and scarves are a must during the winter. Make sure every time your children head out the door, they have dressed appropriately for the weather. Proper attire helps protect your body from the winter elements and keep you healthy.
Using these tips will help you and your family stay healthy during the cold months of winter.