‘Tis the season for sneezing. And coughing, plus runny noses, sinus congestion, and other general winter woes. This year, don’t let colds and the flu ruin everyone’s fun. Try these five tips to keep your family well.
Frequent and thorough hand washing is probably the number-one thing you and your family can do to keep colds and flu away. The key is to wash well using warm water and soap. Use enough to create some suds and have your girl wash for at least 30 seconds—about the time it takes to sing the alphabet song. Make sure she washes her hands, including under her fingernails, before she eats, when she gets home from school, and after she goes to the bathroom or coughs or sneezes. Have her carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer for those times she can’t get to a sink.
Sleep is critical for a fully functioning immune system. Make sure you and your girl get plenty of quality rest time. You should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and help your daughter get nine to 11 hours. Try not to overschedule every night and weekend either. Stress also takes a toll on your immune system.
Staying hydrated will help keep mucous membranes moist and drinking plenty of fluids helps cells get rid of toxins, so you’ll feel better overall. A good target is about half your body weight in ounces. So, if your daughter weighs around 60 pounds, encourage her to drink at least 30 ounces of water per day. Juice is OK too, as long as it’s not full of added sugar. Skip the soda and energy drinks. And be sure to wash or replace water bottles and cups daily to get rid of germs.
Cold and flu germs like to linger. Use an antibacterial wipe to regularly hit high traffic spots — light switches, doorknobs, the phone, refrigerator handle, faucets, toilet handle, remote control, mouse, and keyboard. Frequently launder towels, washcloths, shared blankets, and bed linens in hot water. Make sure your family isn’t sharing drinking glasses or silverware at home or at school. And if someone’s been sick, replace their toothbrush or put it in boiling water for three to four minutes to sanitize it. Be sure to clean the toothbrush holder, too!
A healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables will help immune systems stay strong. Limit sugar and junk foods to make sure you’re all getting the vitamins and nutrients you need. Feel like a healthy diet isn’t enough? Talk with your pediatrician about whether you and your family could benefit from supplements.