Each year as the temperatures drop, cold and flu viruses begin to make rounds through homes and daycare facilities, which increases the risk of your toddler getting sick in winter. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to guarantee that your child will not get sick, because winter viruses are airborne. This implies that if your child breathes within 1-2 metres of a sick person, he can easily become infected.
Furthermore, most people infected with the flu virus are contagious before they start to show any signs, so isolating your child from a coughing, sneezing, or sniffing friend does not really stop him from getting the disease himself.
Still, studies show that exposure to damp or cold weather does not increase the risk of a child catching a cold, at least not directly. But this does not mean that you should give up on the fight against flu this winter.
The following are a few simple tips to help you keep germs away and maintain the health of your baby this winter:
1. Maintain proper hygiene
Make sure that your child washes his hands regularly using warm water and soap to get rid of flu bugs. This should be done after using the toilet, as soon as he gets home from a friend’s house, daycare, or the playground, and before taking any meals or snacks. Parents and other caregivers should also be vigilant about hand washing, especially after wiping a runny nose, changing diapers, and before preparing meals.
2. Teach your child to avoid touching his eyes, nose, or mouth
Unwashed hands usually carry thousands of germs, and when a child rubs his nose or eyes, he deposits those germs directly onto the body’s mucous membranes where they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Putting his dirty fingers in the mouth is, like when biting nails, is also risky behaviour. So, in addition to teaching your child to wash his hands regularly, show him how to use a clean sleeve or tissue to dab an itchy nose or teary eyes, as opposed to touching them directly with his fingers.
You may also teach him to use tissues when he coughs or sneezes, or to block his coughs in the crook of his arm to stop the virus from spreading.
3. Check the child care “sick-child” policy
If you take your child to child care, ensure that it has a reasonable policy on isolating sick children from the healthy ones. Many facilities demand that children with diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, eye infection, or flu stay at home until they get better.
4. Get your kid vaccinated
An annual flu shot and keeping other vaccinations up to date can also help to protect your toddler from catching viruses and bacteria.
You can also boost the immunity of your child naturally by offering him a variety of healthy foods so that his body is well nourished with essential vitamins and minerals. It is also important to ensure that he is physically active and gets plenty of sleep each night.