How To Keep Your Child Cold And Flu Free This Holiday Season

Colds and flu tend to make the rounds during the holiday season when people are out shopping and attending family gatherings. Children are at particular risk when they are around other sick kids at school. But no matter what bugs are spreading, your child's pediatrician may recommend certain tips to help keep your child healthy during the holidays and throughout the cold and flu season.

Get Your Child the Flu Vaccine

Although it generally takes about 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to start doing its job, getting your child a seasonal flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect him or her against flu viruses. Until the vaccine kicks in, keep your child away from others who are sick with colds or flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu. If your child is younger than 8 years old, a second dose of vaccine may be needed if this is the first time he or she has been received the flu vaccine or has only received one dose of the vaccine previously.

Preach the Importance of Clean Hands

Washing away germs helps keep the viruses that cause colds and flu at bay. With this in mind, instruct your child to wash his or her hands first thing after:

  • Playing outdoors or with friends
  • Being around someone who is sick
  • Coming home from school, sports practice, or other extracurricular activity
  • Going to the bathroom

Make sure your child works up some suds and scrubs those hands well. While rinsing under water helps to remove dirt, it takes washing with soap and water to get rid of germs. The bad thing about germs is that they can still be there even if your child's hands look clean.

Trimming your child's fingernails short helps too. Long fingernails harbor germs that can make your child sick. Germs spread easily, and young children especially have a tendency to touch their mouths, noses, and eyes with their hands. Unfortunately, these are prime entry points for germs to invade their little bodies.

De-Germ Touchable Objects

Because germs linger on places other than your child's hands, it's important to keep touchable objects, including doorknobs, table tops, phones, computers, remote controls, and toys, that become contaminated clean. Also, if you have a young child that you sit in the cart when you go shopping, use a wipe to clean the cart handle first.

If you use disposable wipes or wet paper towels to clean surfaces, use them only on a single surface and then throw them in the trash. Otherwise, once you wipe away the germs from one surface, you'll be spreading them onto the next area you clean.

Avoid using wet cloths to clean areas where germs thrive. Fabric towels and dish cloths harbor tons of microorganisms, including cold and flu germs, that you can spread around before laundering.

Set a Regular Bedtime

Tired kids not only get moody, they can get sick as well. Make sure your child gets enough sleep at night, as too little sleep may decrease the number of antibodies the body produces to help fight off illness and infection. While previous research shows that chronic lack of sleep increases the risk for low immune system function, one study suggests that inadequate sleep may cause changes in the body's white blood cell counts–key cells in the immune system.

So what does it all mean? Simply stated, a low white blood cell count can make your child more susceptible to the viruses that cause colds.

If you want your child to be well rested, develop a bedtime routine and set a consistent bedtime. Going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day can help your child get the sleep he or she needs to maintain a healthy immune system. For more information, contact a business like Ada Pediatrics PA.