While you try your hardest to wash your own hands frequently and steer clear of sneezing coworkers, you’ve got to work double duty to protect your kids from the sinister germs of the season.
Watching your little one suffer with a cold or flu never feels good as a parent. Skipping soccer practice and missing school can make it hard for them to stay ahead, not to mention the work you miss to care for them.
You probably already load their water with vitamin C powder before they head to school and tell them to use a tissue (not their hands or sleeves) to catch sneezes.
But there’s more to fighting off the cold and flu than hand-washing and vitamin C. Here’s how your kid can double their defenses and keep the cold and flu out of your house this season.
Pass the water
Sweating in the summer heat makes your child crave water. But once the cold weather sets in, your child may stop drinking as much water as they really need.
Water helps wash bacteria and viruses from their throat and through their digestive tract. If your child is dehydrated, this bacteria can hang out in their mouth and throat and lead to a sore throat.
Plus, cold winter weather can be dryer than the summer air, leading to even more dehydration.
Send your child to school with a water bottle and give them a big glass of water with every meal to keep their whistle wet and the cold away.
Befriend bone broth
Bone broth has long been lauded as a cure-all for the cold and flu, and for good reason. It’s warm, easy to eat (or more like drink), and packed with nutrition in its most absorbable form.
When your little one’s stomach can’t handle solids or their throat is too sore to swallow food, bone broth can help them absorb the nutrients they need to get back on their feet.
And this wonder-food does more than just provide calories. Bone broth wears multiple hats when it comes to treating your child’s sickness:
- It boosts your child’s immune system
- Reduces inflammation in their throat and stomach
- Helps wash away germs in their mouth and digestive tract
- Supports deeper sleep
- Helps fights infection
Make a basic bone broth soup for your child to drink warm, or add rice or pasta to it for a bit more substance.
Bust out the pre- and probiotics
Good bacteria in your child’s digestive tract helps fight off the viruses and bacteria that are culprits for the cold and flu.
A diet rich in good bacteria — called probiotics — brings a defense system to your child’s digestive tract and boosts their immune system against the seasonal crud.
Probiotic foods include:
- Traditional buttermilk
At the same time, prebiotic foods feed the good bacteria in your child’s digestive tract so it can keep doing its job. Prebiotic foods include:
- Cider vinegar
Probiotics and prebiotics are a winning team when it comes to keeping the cold and flu away — for both you and your child.
Cut back on sugar
Sugar isn’t great for your kid’s waistline, teeth, or energy spikes (and crashes). But did you know it plays a role in catching a cold or the flu, too?
Sugar can hurt your child’s immune system by lowering their white blood cells' ability to fight off bacteria. In short, a diet with too much sugar could land your kid in bed with a cold or flu.
Help your child stay healthy this winter by packing them plenty of healthy, low-sugar snacks and keep desserts in the house to a minimum.
Keep vaccinations up to date
This one’s simple — keep your child’s yearly flu vaccinations up to date to help them fend off the flu virus.
Change their toothbrush
After your kid’s finally over their cold or flu, get them a new toothbrush or electric toothbrush head.
Germs can hide in your kid’s toothbrush and lead to reinfection — after all that work to get better!
Make sure your toothbrush isn’t stored too close to theirs either so germs can’t hop over to your brush and get you sick, too.
Keep eyes and nose off-limits
This comes as no surprise to you as a parent, but your child’s hands are covered with germs.
And when they rub their eyes or nose, those germs are deposited right into their mucous membranes to be absorbed into their bloodstream.
Make sure your child uses tissues when they need to rub their eyes or nose. And to stop your own child from spreading germs, have them always use a tissue when they cough or sneeze (rather than their sleeve or worse, letting it spray free!)
Embrace the cold to avoid colds
Despite its name, spending a little time out in the cold won’t give your child a cold.
In fact, spending some time outside in nature can benefit your child’s health in more ways than one.
Natural daylight provides vitamin D, which boosts your kid’s mood and energy. It helps support cardiovascular health, lung function, and regulate insulin levels, too.
So bundle up and get outside to play in the snow — it’s good for both of you!
Illness is a close friend with stress. Your child’s immune system can become weakened when they’re stressed out.
Plus, a stressed kid is more likely to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, like craving extra sugar, to try and relax.
Treat your kids to plenty of comfort and relaxation to boost their health and happiness. Catch a movie, have a gentle snowball fight or just cuddle up next to the fire.
Staying healthy during the winter can be even harder with the excitement of the holidays — namely, all the excess sugar that can lower your kid’s immune systems and cause tooth decay.