Cold weather months can bring on illness for many people but are considered to be especially taxing for children of all ages. Kids are also likelier to get sick during the winter season rather than the summer months because the indoors is a breeding ground for bacteria to travel. Since parents can’t always be around their children, it’s important to take some time to discuss germs and how they spread. Below are some tips for caregivers to discuss with children on how to minimize germs from circulating.
- Prepare for the weather: Freezing temperatures can often serve as a deterrent for going outside during the winter months but caregivers should do their best to ensure that children enjoy fresh air whenever possible. Prior to going outside, children must be bundled up accordingly and be brought in at the first sign of frostbite or hypothermia. Our parenting tips on dressing warm in cold weather can be found here.
- Stay up to date on flu shots and vaccinations: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests an annual flu (influenza) vaccine for all children 6 months and older since young children are the most vulnerable to developing health problems caused by the flu. Flu season runs from October through May and doctors suggest obtaining a flu shot as early in the season as possible. Vaccinations, a polarizing topic in the United States, are considered to be one of the best means of protection against contagious diseases. While there are risks to vaccinating, they are rare compared to the health risks associated with the diseases they’re designed to prevent. It is also not just children that should be vaccinated. Many caregivers are expected to obtain yearly flu shots and vaccine boosters as well.
- Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting: Cleaning involves using soap and water to physically remove germs and dirt from objects and surfaces. Disinfecting is a more rigorous task, using most household cleaning supplies and products, such as Clorox, Lysol, Swiffer and others. Make sure to scrub down anything that you or your children come in contact with on a daily basis, including doorknobs, toys, and phones. Parents should also keep a sick child’s toothbrush separate from the rest of the family.
- Adhere to proper hygiene: Hand washing is considered to be the first line of defense during the cold and flu season since many diseases and conditions are transmitted by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Kids should carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and wipes with them at all times. Teach your kids to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If they don’t have a tissue, show them to cough or sneeze into their upper sleeve, not into their hands.
- Don’t go near someone when he or she is sick: It can be difficult to practice this in a daycare or an educational setting because children are healthy one week, sick the next week, healthy the following week, and so forth. Instead, teach your kids the importance of not sharing food or drinks, cups, utensils, and other items with people that are sick. Additional pros and cons to using a daycare versus a nanny can be found on our blog.
- Practice self-care: Caregivers should always practice healthy meal planning and preparation. Some of our favorite fast and easy cold weather recipes can be found here. When you or your child is sick, make sure to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Depending on the age of the child, he or she can need anywhere from 8 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Not only is food, exercise, and sleep important to stay healthy during the winter, it helps children stay healthy year-round.
No matter the preventative measures you take, children can get sick and it’s best to not blame yourself. After all, exposure to some germs helps strengthen the body’s immunity, allowing bodies to more effectively fight future illnesses. For more information on how our nannies can help with everyday tasks including staying healthy, please contact us via e-mail or at 973-466-2669 today!