How to Keep Kids Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Viruses are everywhere. Some travel in the air, while others linger on solid surfaces, like toys and doorknobs. How can you help your children avoid getting sick this winter?

Toddlers

Toddlers seem to get sick more often than older children. Older children have a better developed immune system than toddlers; however, another factor is that the older a kid gets, the less likely he or she is to put things in their mouths. Toddlers put everything in their mouths, their fingers, their toys, even the remote control!

In tests on hospital room items, researchers found that remote controls harbored more germs than any other common item in there!

Clean Remote

Another major reason a toddler get sick is that they often play near other toddlers. One drippy, runny nose or cough can go from a child’s hand to the handrails on a slide or play kitchen and pass to every other child who touches them.

How Can I keep My Toddler From Getting Sick?

It might seem obvious, but stay away from other toddlers if they have a cough or a runny nose. Many parents believe that if a child doesn’t have a fever, it is allergies. In reality, it could very well be a virus that your child might catch.

Have a child wear gloves and a hat when playing outside in the cold. If your child is sick, they will still spread germs, but if they are well, the gloves may help keep them from touching a germ infected surface. Also, if it is cold, always put a hood or a hat on your child. Most of the body’s heat is lost through the head, even if a child is wearing a warm jacket and boots.

The Importance of Handwashing

Children cannot avoid other children if they are in daycare or preschool. Washing their hands often is the best way to avoid getting sick. Teach them that every time they go to the bathroom, sneeze, or sit down to eat, they need to wash their hands. Regular soap and water work great. The key to effective hand washing is to keep doing it for a full 20 seconds. Have them sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or another song they link as they scrub the front and back of their hands and between their fingers. Regardless of the age of the child, consistent handwashing is the number one way to prevent colds and flu.

Do Kids Really Need a Flu Shot?

Yes. Get your child a flu shot. Many people do not understand that the flu is different from a cold and can be deadly. During the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC reported a total of 186 children died from the flu. 80% of those children were NOT vaccinated. You can read more about it here.

School Aged Children: Tips to avoid getting sick this winter

School-Aged Children The same advice applies to school-age children. They need to learn to wash their hands regularly, especially before they eat, after they go to the bathroom, and after they handle any kind of manipulatives or keyboards at school. Germs linger on things children have touched.

Consider asking your child’s teacher if she/he needs a bottle of antibacterial gel or wipes in the classroom and donate it. Parents might also volunteer to disinfect toys like math manipulatives and legos on the weekend. Attach a travel size bottle of antibacterial gel to your child’s lunch box or backpack and ask them to use it before snacks or lunch.

Keep your child’s vaccinations up to date, including the Flu shot. This information is helpful to understand the difference between a cold and the flu: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm.

What Are The Top Germ Infested Items in the House?

We already told you about the remote control…but what else? The toilet seat? Interestingly, it’s your kitchen that needs the most cleaning TLC. Here is a list of the top items that harbor germs and are least frequently cleaned:

  • Kitchen Sponges and Dishtowels
  • Anything used to clean including vacuum bristles, mops, brooms, etc.
  • Bath Towels (Tip: reuse for no more than 3 days and don’t share!)

The average cutting board has about 200% more fecal bacteria than the average toilet seat highlighting the importance of practicing hygienic food preparation techniques

Web MD
  • Kitchen Faucets, Refrigerator Door Handles, Oven Handle, Sink Drain
  • Hand Towels
  • Welcome Mat (how long have you had the same doormat? It’s time to spray it with disinfectant!)
  • Coffee Machines (especially single-cup machines)
  • Phones & Ear Buds

May these tips help you avoid getting sick this winter…and may this year be your child’s healthiest year yet!