How To Keep Kids Healthy This Winter
As the weather gets colder, we get excited about snow days and hot chocolate but dread cold and flu season. For some parents, this has felt like an uphill battle during the last years but there are some tips that can help parents protect their kid’s health.
Good Handwashing Technique
Practice with your kids and demonstrate this yourself with handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom, prior to eating, and after coming home from school to name a few. It is best to use soap and water to get a thorough hand washing but if soap is not available, it is okay to use an alcohol based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Show them the proper technique and steps: wet with water, lather with soap, scrub, rinse and dry. Make it fun and easy for them to remember how long to wash for, 20 seconds is perfect for singing the Happy Birthday song twice or singing their ABC’s twice.
Dr. Fassil shows the recommended hand washing technique for thoroughly washing your hands in a video HERE.
Covering Your Cough and Social Distancing
Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough has always been an important part of protecting others from germs, and kids think its hilarious when you tell them to pretend like they are a vampire and sneeze into the inside of their elbows (if there are no tissues available).
Continue to follow the current COVID protocols, especially in Flu, RSV and cold season. Although masks are currently optional in many public settings, wear your mask if you feel more comfortable and especially if you are experiencing fever or cough. Social distance when possible and try to avoid crowded situations, especially with your little ones that are unvaccinated.
One of the most important things we can do for our children is vaccinate them. We know that there are many childhood diseases that are highly preventable with vaccination, so keep up with your child’s regular well visits and keep them up to date on their vaccine schedule. Keeping up with your families yearly flu shot and the most updated COVID vaccine for your child is incredibly important to protect them from getting very sick or even hospitalized. Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect ourselves and our families from severe illness, hospitalizations and death.
In addition to keeping up with your kids vaccinations, it is also important to stay on track with their yearly physicals. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions about your child’s development, growth, and address any questions you might have. Tracking their growth and examining them gives us the ability to tackle any issues that may come up and intervene early if needed.
Some of the most important things we can do for our children and ourselves is making time for sleep, exercise and good nutrition. A good night’s rest is especially important when our kids are in school all day. Establish a bedtime routine for them but don’t forget about yourself! Parents are perpetually exhausted with trying to balance kids, work, household duties and often forget about self-care. Make sure to find time to take care of yourself as well, get good sleep, eat a well balanced diet and get out an be active with your family. Good nutrition is essential to keeping your body and mind functioning. It is often tough to get yourself out and moving during these cold winter days but feels so good once you get outside. Bundle up and take a walk with the family, play in the snow, or just have races in the yard.
For more ideas about outside play during the winter, read our article HERE.
Remember, kids will catch colds and get sick despite our best efforts. They are also far more resilient than we give them credit for and generally do well with most viral illnesses. Take time to make healthy habits together as a family and talk about your mental health as well. Give yourself some grace and remember, we are all doing our best.
Call your pediatrician to ask questions and discuss any concerns about your specific child's physical health and mental health.
Article originally written for Arundel Kids.