Keeping your kids healthy during the winter months can seem like an impossible task. With germs being spread all over your child’s classroom and daycare, cold and flu season can take any kid out for weeks. By incorporating a few proactive practices, you can help your child stay healthy and strong this school year.
- Immune-boosting food and drink: Certain foods and drinks will help improve your child’s immune system. Garlic, ginger, fresh green juices and vitamin C-packed foods are great to start including in your child’s lunchbox. There are a number of immune-boosting smoothiesthat make a great breakfast and can get your child’s immune system off to a great start in the morning as well.
- Minimize sugar: Taking in too much sugar has been linked to decreased immune systems and increased inflammation. If your child is consuming too much sugar on a daily basis, they could end up with a chronically depressed immune system. Try to cut back on sugary drinks and minimize the amount of candy and desserts your child eats.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is crucial to keep our bodies healthy. The hours we are asleep allows our bodies to repair and heal. If your child has difficult falling asleep, try setting a cut-off time for electronics and diffusing a calming essential oil that will help him or her fall asleep.
- Keep the calendar clear: Stress is a huge reason immune systems get compromised. When we are under stress, our immune function declines. During the school year, when schedules tend to fill up, it’s important to allow time for your child to de-compress so they don’t get too stressed.
- Teach your kids: One of the best ways for your child to stay healthy is for him or her to avoid eating and drinking after others. It’s also important for your child to wash his or her hands with soap and warm water any time they use a toilet, before mealtime and after returning from school or daycare.
- Vaccinate your child: It’s important that your child’s vaccines are up to date to keep him or her protected from viruses and bacteria. You should consider getting an annual flu shot for your child as well.
What To Do If Your Child Does Get Sick
Unfortunately, most children average six to eight colds annually, so your child will likely end up with at least a minor illness at some point throughout the year. Let’s say worse case scenario happens and your child ends up coming down with an illness of some kind. If this happens, your best bet is to make your child as comfortable as possible until the virus subsides. Here are a few ways to do that:
Make sure your child gets enough rest: The more rest your child gets, the quicker he or she will recover. While it may be difficult, encourage your child to take a nap or two during the day. When your child is awake, make sure he or she is relaxing on the couch with some quiet activities, such as a puzzle, coloring book or board game.
Encourage your child to stay hydrated: While your child may not feel like drinking fluids when he or she is feeling under the weather, it is important to stay hydrated. Water, juice, milk and sports drinks can all help replenish the fluids your child is losing, especially if he or she is suffering from a fever or diarrhea.
Try to incorporate vitamin C: To help lessen symptoms and shorten the length of a cold, find ways to give your child vitamin C. However, be careful not to give your child too much vitamin C in one dose. Children should have no more than 500 milligrams in one day. For reference, one cup of orange juice contains about 120 mg of vitamin C.)
Show some TLC: Whenever your child is feeling under the weather, they may need time to cuddle up with you. In addition to taking care of your child during their illness, cozy up next to him or her on the couch. If you have a no-kids-in-the-bed policy, consider relaxing it while your child is sick and in need of a little more TLC. If your child has a favorite board game or movie, let them decide what you play or watch.
Know the policy at your child’s school: Before you determine whether or not your child should stay home from school, check in with the school’s sick policy. Most schools simply require that children with a fever, symptoms of the flu, vomiting, diarrhea, eye infection or rash stay at home.
Educate on proper etiquette: If your child is suffering from a minor illness, such as a cold, but is still able to go to school, encourage him or her to use a tissue whenever sneezing and to cough into the crook of the arm. This will help prevent your child from spreading the virus and, hopefully, will encourage other students to do the same when they’re sick.
When Should You See A Doctor If Your Child Is Sick?
Typically viral illnesses clear up within a few days; however, in some instances they can turn into something more serious. If this happens, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If your child experiences any of the following symptoms, call a doctor immediately or go to your closest ER:
- Pain in the ear or face which can indicate an ear infection or sinus infection
- A fever that is 103 degrees or higher
- A fever that lasts more than three days
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- A severe sore throat accompanied by a fever
If your child gets sick this winter, pediatricians at Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care are here for you 7 days a week.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.