With winter comes runny noses, coughs, and even nasty stomach bugs. Here are some tips to help prevent those common childhood illnesses and stop them spreading through your child’s daycare or preschool.

  1. Keep sick kids home. This is a basic one but the most important. Kids are like little Petri dishes, they catch and breed all types of germs. With some illnesses, such as strep throat, it’s obvious that kids need to stay home (they must be on antibiotics for 24 hours before returning to school). But what about the common cold? A virus could give one person a mild cold and another could get really sick with something like pneumonia. With colds and other viruses such as the stomach flu, it’s best to keep them home until symptoms fade. Pink eye is very contagious but it’s almost always a virus. Wait until it there’s less redness and no discharge, or ask your doctor when it’s safe to send them back to school.
  2. Wash hands with soap and water (and try to avoid hand sanitizer). There’s a difference between washing your hands with water and soap versus sanitizers. Studies have shown that the chemicals in hand sanitizers can irritate the skin and frequent use can actually make people more prone to contamination. Stick with soap and water and reinforce when it’s most important for kiddos to wash up, such as after blowing their nose or using the bathroom.
  3. Consume lots of vitamin C. Many suggest doubling the daily dosage of vitamin C recommended for the age of your child, but consult your doctor first. In addition, make sure to include vitamin C-rich foods like oranges and tomatoes in your family’s diet.
  4. Let them get a little dirty. Seriously. You can’t keep a child in a bubble because it doesn’t work. Kids need to interact with the world so they can expose themselves to different germs that the body will learn to fight off. This will prevent them from getting sick so often!

Teach habits like washing hands and coughing into the elbow so that kids can stay healthy and prevent the spread of germs. Kids will get sick, but these tips can help limit those instances and keep you healthy and happy. Everyone wins!

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