Colder temperatures might be a welcomed relief after a scorching summer, but every season has its challenges. With fewer daylight hours to enjoy fresh air, peak cold and flu season, and the increased exposure to germs during the school year, it can seem like the odds are stacked against you. The good news is you can help keep your children healthy this winter by implementing a few simple tips into your everyday routine.
1. Incorporate immune boosting food and drinks
Your first instinct may be to grab an orange, but an orange a day may grow old quickly. Change it up with other citrus fruits that are packed full of vitamin C like grapefruit, kumquat, lemon or lime. Other foods with immune-boosting properties include garlic, ginger, spinach and red bell peppers–which have twice as much vitamin C as citrus. Try adding a cup of warm tea with lemon and honey to your child’s bedtime routine–not only will it benefit his or her immune system but also help relax them to get a more restful night sleep.
2. Enforce bedtime
Speaking of sleep, one of the best ways to help keep your children healthy this winter is to make sure they are getting the proper amount of sleep. Being well-rested will help their body fight off viruses they may be exposed throughout the day. For recommended amounts of sleep for each age group, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website.
3. Practice effective handwashing
Teach your kids to wash their hands when they are dirty, before eating or touching food, after using the restroom, after blowing their nose, after touching pets, after playing outside, and before and after visiting a sick friend or relative. Warm or cold water is okay, but always use soap. Make sure they don’t forget both sides of their hands, between their fingers, around the fingernails and up to the wrists. A good way to make sure kids wash their hands long enough to effectively kills germs is to have them sing the “Happy Birthday” song.
4. Limit sugar
In addition to its other negative effects, sugar is proven to suppress the immune system by decreasing your white blood cells ability to fight bacteria. Sugar consumption can also increase inflammation. From Halloween candy to holiday treats, there’s a lot of temptation during this time of year, but limiting sugar intake is a proven way to help keep your kids healthy.
5. Change their clothes
Get in the habit of having your kids change out of their school clothes as soon as they get home, and leave their shoes at the door. The average person sheds 37 million microorganisms every hour when they have clothes on, each of which can survive on clothing for different amounts of time. Changing clothes and not wearing shoes in the house are simply ways to prevent tracking germs into your house.
6. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations
Vaccines are an important component of protecting a child’s health by working with their body’s natural defenses to develop immunities to various diseases. To help keep your children healthy this winter, follow the recommended immunization guidelines for children including annual flu shots. This can be done during your child’s regular well visit with his or her pediatrician. Consistent well visits when your child is healthy are an important part of preventing your child from getting sick.
Contact Kernodle Clinic Pediatrics
Despite your best efforts, there is no foolproof way to prevent your children from getting sick this winter–or any time of year for that matter. You can expect on average for your school-age child to get five to six colds each year. Babies and toddlers may contract as many as eight to ten colds annually. To schedule a routine wellness exam or sick visit for your child, call Kernodle Clinic Pediatrics at (336) 538-2416 (Elon) or (919) 563-2500 (Mebane).