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Five Ways to Help Children Prevent Illness this Winter

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The winter weather and cold temperatures have returned. Children have returned to school after the holiday break and colds, infections and viruses are running rampant. Be sure to take extra steps to help prevent illnesses like the flu virus for yourself and your children.

First, it's important to recognize the symptoms commonly associated with a winter cold. See your pediatrician if your child has a fever of 101 or higher. Many childcare programs have a sick policy. You may want to follow up with your child care and refresh your memory of this policy. Some policies include but are not limited to the following:

  • A fever above 101 degrees taken orally (102 degrees taken rectally or 100 degrees taken axillary – armpit)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or rash of unknown origin
  • Cold or other illness-causing breathing difficulties or other symptoms that prevent the child from participating comfortably in activities
  • Positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test
  • Ringworm
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

1) Wash Hands

Adults and children should wash their hands often and make sure to scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds. Be sure your hands are washed after blowing noses and sneezing. You may also want to wash pacifiers, toys, table tops, door handles and other surfaces more often to stop the spread of germs.

Click here to view tips for proper handwashing in childcare centers. All childcare centers follow this policy.

2) Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is important for growth, development and healthy life. It helps the body restore and repair itself, and is also vital in preventing illness. Make sure your children get enough sleep, as those who are sleep deprived are more susceptible to infection. It is recommended that school-aged children get 9-11 hours of sleep each night.

3) Eat a Balanced Diet

It is true, "you are what you eat", especially for young children. A poor diet can cause stress to the immune system and lead to illness. By including lots of fruits and vegetables in their diet, a child will get the vitamins they need to boost their immunity.

Consider the 80:20 rule - eat as healthy as possible 80% of the time and be more flexible with the other 20% while still promoting healthy options. You can also talk your pediatrician about vitamins and how they can help keep your child healthy.

4) Limit Stress

Stress can weaken the immune system. When stressed, immune function declines. During the school year, stay involved in your kid's day-to-day activities and monitor their stress level.

You can minimize the toll of illnesses on your family by teaching your child important healthy habits. Here are six self-care activities to take part in with your children that can create healthy habits and reduce stress as they develop.

5) Get a Flu Vaccine

Another step is to have your children vaccinated with the Influenza vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine every season. Call your pediatrician today to learn more.

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