Fall and winter bring sweaters, school, Canadian geese, holidays and…cold and flu season. Achoo! The Flu! Sanitizing and keeping kids away from germs can feel like a never ending battle. We have a few recommendations to keep kids healthy this cold and flu season. Remember that it is unavoidable that children come in contact with germs, but adding healthy hygiene habits can cut down on sick days for them and for you.
Follow these classic suggestions from pediatricians like Dr. Frank Esper MD, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine:
1. Wash hands often and for at least 20 seconds (have the children count to make it more fun).
2. Don’t share. We teach them to share for years, but do not share brushes, water bottles, lip balms or food.
3. Cover sneezes and coughs. One teacher made up “Dracula Sneezes”—tucking your sneezes and coughs into your caped wing (elbow) instead of spreading the germs.
4. Try to keep your hands away from eyes, ears and nose.
5. Eat well, with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
6. Rest well. CDC recommends 8.5 - 13 hours of sleep based on age.
7. Get the flu shot for you and your children.
8. If you are sick, stay home. It is better in the long run for the children, for you and others. When your child has a fever they have the highest amount of germs in their body.
A few other ways to keep germs at bay:
· Keep backpacks and shoes away from the kitchen, tables and counter tops. Leave the backpacks in an area away from the main living area if possible. Backpacks have been on school buses, bathrooms and schools filled with hundreds of other backpacks.
· Make refreshing homemade hand sanitizer using essential oils.
· Make a habit of washing hands or using hand sanitizer before and after meals, homework or any new project.
· Create the "clean up squad". Once a week, have children clean the home using sanitizing wipes to clean door knobs, light switches, sinks, faucets, counters and other high traffic areas. Set a timer, sing or play music to make this less chore-like.
· Play the glitter game. One blogger suggested that germs can be too abstract for a young child to understand. Put some glitter on their hands and have the children shake hands, high five, touch the same paper, etc. This helps children to see how easily we can spread germs.
Try not to be stressed about staying 100 percent germ-free, because that isn’t realistic. Even adding three or four of these habits will reduce your risk of cold and flu. Winter and fall are full of newness and charm, so don’t let germs take that away from you. If you end up getting sick, take the opportunity to rest, read, sleep, hydrate and get better soon! If your child ends up sick, take advantage of the time to snuggle, care for and rejuvenate your child. Take the time to get well so you can stay well longer. Wondering when to take your child to the doctor? Check with American Academy of Pediatrics. Call Lovelace Care Concierge 505.727.2727 if you need an appointment.
Resources for Keeping Germs at Bay: