Kids are great at sharing germs! Children can get as many as 5-10 every year because they are still building their immunity. There are more than 200 different viruses that cause colds. Luckily colds are self-limiting and usually quite mild to moderate symptoms, but who wants a cold?
Simple Ways to keep your children well over Winter:
- Hand washing: One of the greatest breakthroughs in modern medicine to prevent the spread of disease. Teaching your children (and adults) how to wash their hands is one of the best ways to limit illness. Wash before eating, after the toilet, after touching animals or exposure to any contaminants/germs that may cause illness. Use soap and water and thoroughly cleanse,then rinse hands. How long should you wash? Sing “Happy Birthday To You” twice through and you have done enough
- Cover your mouth: When you cough or sneeze teach children cover their mouths, not with their hands but a tissue or the inside of their elbow! The spread of germs is then contained and their hands will remain free of contamination.
- Good diet: eating a good healthy diet provides nutrients that support immunity. Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed full of vitamins like vitamin C. Offer children fresh fruit and vegetables regularly. 2 Serves of Fruit and 3 serves of vegetables every day is the target. Fruit and vegetables in sugary yoghurts, on pizzas or hot chips (unless these are all homemade) do not count.
- Good sleep: Having adequate sleep is really the basis of a healthy body at all stages of life. Many biological processes occur whilst asleep- they aid brain development as well as providing rest and relaxation in preparation for the day to come. Sleep deficit/lack of sleep is link to depressed immunity.
- Outside exercise: Bodies are machines as well as the house for our higher selves. Good health is supported by moving those bodies and doing it in the outdoors is even better. Get your children away from their screens for 30 minutes each day and take them to the park, play sport or climb a tree. Free-play outside offers many health benefits and will support healthy functioning of their bodies and their brain development.
- Supporting immunity with supplements and foods:
- Vitamin C is a great addition to your Winter Wellness regime. A good brand of chewable Vitamin C alone or combined with zinc are good to offer and come in child friendly flavours. There are also many powders that make a tasty vitamin C drink (Medlab Manuka-C/ Eden Wild-C)
- Probiotics are a great way to build immunity as it develops from our gut microbiome. Whether its a powder or a tablet, taking probiotics can really boost your child’s health. (Probiotics can improve the action of antibiotics if take 2 hours away from your antibiotic dose). Always follow up antibiotics and illness with a course of probiotics to help re-establish good gut flora in your child.
- Herbal teas are tasty item be used during winter or times of illness. As well as the therapeutic effects of the herbs your child will be staying hydrated. Elderberry and Echinacea is a great combination for winter wellness (Try the delicious Pukka tea ). Chamomile can soothe sore tummies and help bring on sleep. Licorice is a sweet tasting tea that is helpful for coughs and chesty conditions .
When your child has a cold:
- Keep them home to rest and give their immune systems the chance to fight off whatever is happening
- Keep them hydrated- use a herbal tea or water and offer it regularly.
- Monitor temperatures- especially in small children and babies. Temperatures can rise very suddenly. Keep your child cool with cool wet compresses but don’t let them get cold. Utilise paracetamol if necessary as directed by your pharmacist or doctor.
- Reducing a temperature* with medication does not mean that your child is ‘feeling better’ and can return to school or childcare. They are still ill and infectious and need rest to get recover.
*If in doubt about what to do when your child has a high temperature contact your GP or ring Healthcare Direct ( 1800 022 222) a free government phone number that offers medical advice 24 hours a day.
Desley Hatfield | Naturopath
Desley Hatfield is a naturopath at the Ashfield Clinic. She is interested in working with you and your family to build resilience and vitality to reduce colds, flu or other illness over winter. She offers practical and family-friendly tips and tricks. If you would like to chat with Desley about how this can happen contact Desley for her free 20/20 Introduction to Wellness appointment.