School has started and we know cold and flu season isn’t far behind. Here are 5 tips to keep your kids healthy and their immune systems strong.
“A dose of flu vaccine is recommended every flu season. Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses during the same flu season. Everyone else needs only one dose each flu season. There are many flu viruses, and they are always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four viruses that are likely to cause disease in the upcoming flu season. But even when the vaccine doesn’t exactly match these viruses, it may still provide some protection.” Dr. Blanca Fresno recommends flu vaccines for kids starting at 6 months of age. Vaccines to prevent the most common flu strains expected this year are available now at Pediatrics in Paradise.
Scrubbing and Sudsing
Hand washing is one of the best ways to keep your kids from getting sick and spreading illnesses. Experts say suds up for at least 20 seconds, several times a day. (If no sink is available, hand sanitizers can be used) Try these ideas to make hand washing fun and something your kids will look forward to (really!)
- For a full 20-second wash, sing “Happy Birthday” twice, or teach kids this version of a “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”: Wash, wash, wash your hands, Play our handy game. Rub and scrub and scrub and rub Germs go down the drain (repeat)
- Make your bathroom kid-friendly with stools to help them reach the faucet and fun soaps like Methods’ Mickey and Minnie Mouse shaped containers (at Target) or Musical Hand Wash Timers, awesome toppers for soft soap dispensers that light up and play music for 20 seconds (available at Get Healthy Hands).
- Older kids? Tell them to sing the chorus to “Uptown Funk” twice for a 20 second wash!
Plenty of Rest
Kids may need more sleep than you think; follow these guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation.
- Newborns (0-3 months ): 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Extra rest helps sick kids recover faster. Don’t send them to school, especially at the beginning of an illness, it can slow down their recovery and they’ll infect other kids (and teachers).
Keep Sinuses Moist
Cool, dry weather and indoor heating can dry out kids’ sinuses and nasal passages. Dry passages cause mucus membranes to go into overdrive and produce more reactive mucus which is the perfect breeding ground for airborne germs. Moisture keeps passages healthy. Try using a cool mist humidifier at night or a saline spray made especially for kids.
Try Natural Prevention
Immune-boosting herbs and vitamins can help prevent a cold or flu, or shorten the length and intensity of the symptoms. Sambucus, or elderberry syrup, helps if taken during the first 24 to 48 hours of illness. Kids love the taste too! Echinacea and zinc are two more good immune boosters, as is Vitamin C. And don’t forget about the proven healing power of chicken soup, especially when you add veggies like carrots, celery, parsley, turnips, parsnips and sweet potatoes.