Leaves, pumpkins, costumes and the sniffles – fall is here and with it, a greater exposure to germs. So, we’ve got a few tips that’ll help the whole family reduce its chances of exposure to the nasty critters that make us sick. Ghosts and ghouls are okay in October, but the flu? No way! Let’s get to it.
Wash those hands!: Does this really need to be on the list? Washing one's hands (that means you too, Mom and Dad), is critical to avoiding germs of all sorts, all year long. If soap and water isn’t nearby, keep bottled sanitizer in the places you live that aren’t near a sink: your car, your purse, your gym bag. Use them when appropriate. There’s a reason doctors scrub and scrub and scrub before surgery, it’s keeps the patient safe. So, wash away those germs today! P.S. No need for the antibacterial kind ... just plain 'ol alcohol-based will do fine.
Keep ‘em active: Exercise is good for the body – and it boosts the immune system. Perfect for keeping the family free from illness throughout the year. And, don’t let the cold weather stop you from letting the kids enjoy the outdoors, either. Chances are some of your best memories are tied to fall outdoor activities!
Pay attention to sleep: Kids are no different when it comes to a need for sleep. Make sure they’re getting the number of hours they need to function well during the day. Doing so will help their little bodies run in tip-top-shape, and help keep them strong all season-long.
Teach face-avoidance: You’ve probably learned over the years that keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth has helped keep you from getting sick when everyone else around you is hacking up a lung. You can save your kids the 20 years it took you to learn this lesson by teaching them this little tidbit now.
Keep up-to-date on vaccinations: Keeping your child’s annual appointment with the physician will ensure your kids are up to date on all their vaccinations.
Feed well, and eat well: Maintaining a good diet is key for overall health. Healthy portions, healthy choices, and a healthy variety of foods is the best way to ensure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need to be well. Aim for lots of color on the plate, and start while they’re young. There’s nothing more difficult than getting a five year-old to eat asparagus if they've never seen it before in their lives. Oh, and parents – you need to eat your veggies too. Your kids will notice your avoidance before you even suggest they try to use their fork. Good luck with that.
Stay Hydrated and decongested: Did you know that when a baby is born, its body can be up to 78% water? That number drops to about 65% after its first year, and as adults, men come in around 60%, women around 55%. Water is good for your kids – make sure they get enough of it. You may also wish to supplement that hydration with humidifier use and nasal saline sprays – both of which can help keep sensitive mucosal membranes moist during the dry fall and winter seasons.
Don’t share meals: Illness tends to have an incubation period, so avoid sharing food and drink when things are “going around.” Keep the food on your own plate to stay extra safe, and go buffet-style with big portions in the middle if you want to share.
Avoid crowds: It’ll come as no surprise that the more people you and your little ones are exposed to, the more likely you all are to get sick. Public transport and events at school are the perfect place to get sick. To be sure, it's not always possible to avoid these environments, however, so be sure to practice good hygiene. See the first bullet!
Teach good sanitization practices: Speaking of good hygiene, be sure to teach your kids how to keep other people free from illness as well. All the habits discussed above not only protect your kids, but protect others. So, when your children are sick, coughing in the crook of their elbow, using tissues, and washing their hands are each practices they should employ while enduring their own illnesses in the beauty of the cold season.
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