Having two small children myself, I sometimes feel there is only a week or two between bouts of colds, sinus infections, sore throats, coughs, runny noses and the list goes on.
I thought I would share my tips for keeping illness to a minimum and how to expedite healing.
Teach children not to share certain personal items: combs, hats, brushes, chapsticks, sippy cups, water bottles, toothbrushes. These items can transmit viruses like Mononucleosis, cold sores, as well as upper respiratory tract infections, common colds and lice.
Cough into their elbow or a tissue, not into their hands. That way germs are not on hands that then touch doorknobs, sinks, as well as other peoples hands.
Wash hands upon return from school, before eating, after using the restroom and after shopping. Also make sure to use disinfectant cloths to wipe areas of cart that your infant/toddler will be touching.
Adequate rest, child should wake without alarm, or wake easily.
1-5 years old, 10-13 hours
6-12 years old, 9-10 hours
teens, 8-9 ½ hours, may increase while going through puberty
If ill, make sure to give enough time to recover. I suggest adding an extra day of rest after child is 90-100% better. Keep activities at a minimum and ensure adequate sleep.
Prevent illness with proper nutrition: 3 fruit servings a day and 3 vegetable servings a day
Exercise daily: playground, gym, after school programs, dance, outdoor games and activities. ½ hour -1 hour a day. Dont exercise when ill. This is a preventive measure.
Probiotics: taken while on antibiotics and for 3 months following. Also probiotics will cut down length of illness as well as severity
Consider adding a quality Multi-vitamin and additional Vitamin C to support the immune system. Cod Liver Oil is another suggestion as it contains essential fatty acids, immune stimulating Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Many of us living in the Northeast are deficient in Vitamin D.
Be aware of symptoms of stress: headaches, belly aches, acting out, degression in coping mechanisms. Give child extra time with parent, extra attention. Stress weakens the immune system and will make the child more prone to catching a cold.
Keep children hydrated, not with fruit juice. Hydrate with water first. If child wants juice, cut it with 50-80% with water. This is to prevent illness and to help one recover.
Let the child mount a fever, it is there to help eradicate the bacteria/virus. Lowering a fever may prolong the illness. However, there are limits to how high you want a temperature to rise. This is age dependent, please consult your pediatrician for guidelines.
Avoid high fructose corn syrup, sugars. These lower immune function and can cause an illness to last longer. Try not to give child ice pops, ice cream or high sugar foods during a cold. Watch for sugar/HFCS added in places it is not necessary : Ketchup, jelly, peanut butter, juice etc.
Give lots of snuggle time, hugs, kisses, and attention. There's a good chance, as an adult, you are already immune to more than half the colds our children are contracting. Then again, sometimes the caretaker falls victim. If so, see above list!