How Can I Keep My Child Healthy This Winter?

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Despite the Mediterranean climate of southern California, the area still experiences a typical cold and flu season during the winter months alongside a temperature dip. And if you are traveling anywhere during the season or for the holidays to visit family, you and your family can be especially exposed to the elements. Although there is no way to guarantee that your child won’t get sick this year, you can identify and practice ways that you can minimize the risk. Cold and flu viruses move through schools rapidly, so extra precautions are especially important.

It’s important that your child is familiar with how germs operate so that he can protect himself when you are not around. Teach him that washing his hands with soap and warm water is necessary after using the restroom, before eating, and after completing tasks like coming inside the house from playing outdoors. Talk to him about how avoiding touching his eyes can help keep germs from entering his body, and using tissues and disposing of them immediately helps keep viruses contained. Additionally, clean your home regularly by wiping the surfaces of common breeding grounds for germs, like toilet handles, telephones, computer keyboards, and doorknobs.

Make sure your child has as healthy of an immune system as possible by feeding him healthy foods packed with vitamins and nutrients. He should also be getting regular physical activity and a consistent amount of sleep – depending on his age, he might need as much as 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night and a consistent bedtime routine to help him fall asleep sooner. A solid pattern of eating, exercising, and sleeping will help to keep his body in a healthy state that can fight off viruses. You can also talk to his pediatrician about the vaccines that he might need in order to be protected from specific sicknesses.

If the temperatures this season, or if you are traveling to a cooler climate, make sure your child dresses appropriately with a coat, gloves, and a hat. If you notice that any of his friends are sick, try to keep him away from the sick child as much as possible (which will likely be helped by his school’s sick child policy). Keep in mind that many sicknesses become contagious before symptoms show up, so if one of his friends is sick, it might be too late to stop the spread. If your child does show signs of sickness, make sure he sneezes or coughs into the crook of his arm (the inside of his elbow) instead of passing germs on – and schedule a visit with his pediatrician if you are concerned.