Childhood cold and flu is inevitable. From the bus to the classroom to a play date with the neighbors, children—and parents—are exposed to germs every day. During the winter when coughing, sneezing and runny noses are in full swing, it’s even more important to remember to take steps to help keep your family as healthy as possible. Here are a few time-tested tips for parents:
Become the hand-washing police.
Limit your child’s germ-spreading and germ-getting by enforcing a strict hand-washing policy. Warm water and soap work best, but you also can use hand sanitizer on your child. Whenever your daughter sneezes, coughs, blows her nose, or goes to the bathroom, make sure she knows that washing up can help protect her family. You and all other family members also need to wash your hands carefully, especially before meals and after bathroom use.
Enforce an early “lights-out” and make water the drink of choice.
During sleep, the immune system goes to work to restore your body and protect it from illness. A lack of sleep works against your immune system, making it vulnerable to sickness. Water hydrates your body to help your immune system optimally function. A child under the age of 12 months should not be given plain water unless you are directed to do so by a physician.
Love ’em and let ’em be.
Your sniffling son needs his rest to help recover from the flu. Encourage him to go to bed early and tell your family
it’s best to give him space. This may help shorten the length of the illness and even limit your family’s (and your own) exposure.
Break out the cleaning crew.
Wiping down shared surfaces such as computer keyboards,
phones, countertops, and TV remotes with antibacterial wipes can kill flu germs. Keep containers of wipes around your home and remind your family to “clean it before you use it.” Also, replace your sick child’s toothbrush
with a fresh new one once the illness has passed to eliminate germs that can remain on the old toothbrush.
Use a humidifier in your home.
During the winter indoor air is especially dry. Using a humidifier keeps the air at comfortable humidity levels, which helps ease congestion and soothes sore throats. Therefore, using a humidifier makes sense no matter what your symptoms are. And should you have a cold or cough, humidifiers can help ease congestion and soothe sore throats.
Get the flu shot.
Flu shots can be beneficial for most children and adults. They are especially important for individuals in certain high-risk groups. Check with your physician to find out if you or your family members are in this category.