As we heading into fall and winter, there’s one sentence parents dread: “Mom, Dad, I don’t feel well.”
When it comes to children’s health, the flu can present a variety of worrisome symptoms like high fevers and severe congestion. With just a few minor changes to everyday behavior, parents and caregivers can take steps towards preventing the flu, and managing flu symptoms for their little ones.
The easiest way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are constantly updated to combat ever-changing flu viruses. For the best results, make sure that everyone in your home over six months of age receives their shot at least once a year.
Pediatrician Tip: If you’re already showing signs of the flu, a vaccine won’t help your symptoms. Keep in mind that a flu shot takes about two weeks to fully activate. This means that you and your child are still at-risk for getting the flu during this time. To take the most preventative action, contact your child’s pediatrician to find out the earliest possible vaccination date.
Wash Hands Frequently
Frequent handwashing with antibacterial soap can prevent the spread of flu viruses and kill harmful bacteria. Hand sanitizer can be used when washing is impractical. It’s easy to lose track of how often we touch our faces. If you have trouble remembering to wash your hands often, set reminders or alarms so you can keep your hands free of bacteria.
Get a Full Night’s Sleep
Well-rested children who have solid strategies for sleeping well are less likely to get sick from the flu, cold and other illnesses. As an added bonus, quality sleep also helps kid perform better academically and has also been linked to increased mood.
Water is critical for healthy functioning. During flu season, children should be encouraged to drink plenty of water to aid their body’s ability to fight off potential threats. Make sure that your child always has a water bottle on-hand and limit sugary drinks to help them maintain optimal hydration.
Stock Up on Tissues
One of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of germs is to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. However, children often forget to follow this rule. Travel-sized tissue packs can be a useful tool for encouraging healthy habits.
Avoid Sick People
Staying away from sick people is a tried and true way to bypass the flu and other common viruses. Avoid letting your child near sick friends or relatives for at least 24 hours after their flu symptoms have dissipated. If the flu is spreading rapidly in your community, try to limit your child’s time spent in crowded public places until things settle down.
Maintain Well-Balanced Nutrition
Healthy kids’ meals can significantly boost the immune system. Small changes such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake in your child’s diet and limiting processed foods can make a big difference.