Top Tips for Keeping Your Child Healthy this Winter

Here comes Winter, and with it the dreaded onslaught of colds and flu! Dr. Carolyn Ee shares her top tips for keeping your child healthy this winter – preventing colds and flu.

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So here it is, the onset of “snot season”.

If you have small children who attend daycare, and particularly if you have more than one, you might be bracing yourself for a long hard winter. Last year our household was hit hard, with months of green noses and many days spent at home with sick kids. I honestly couldn’t keep track of where one cold ended and another began; my two children seemed to share the love very easily (fortunately not with us!) We have asthma in our household too, so we have an extra reason to be anxious.

But fear not – I have done my research on how to maximise the healthy, snot-free days, and keep those viruses away. I hope it will help your household too.

1. Handwashing. All. The. Time.

sink-washing handsI’ve said it before and I won’t stop saying it – handwashing is the best defence against those germies.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not coughing into someone’s face that is the most infectious – it’s touching doorknobs, computer keyboards, phones etc that have been contaminated with nice festering viruses.

Become an even stricter hand-washing dictator, and carry alcohol sanitiser for when you can’t get to a tap, and disinfect surfaces and toys frequently. It can be hard to police in children, especially when they’re all sharing the petri dish called daycare, but anything you can do is a step in the right direction – including keeping yourself germ-free so you can look after them.

2. Fight the Germ Wars with Nice Bacteria

medicine tablets probioticsThat’s probiotics to you – Lactobacillus rhamnosus, acidophilus and GG, and Bifidobacterium animalis to be exact.

These lovely friendly bacteria been shown to reduce the risk of getting coughs and colds, shorten the duration of colds, and reduce the number of sick days in preschoolers attending daycare. He-llooo!!! Drown them in it! (Well, no, don’t do that, but do give them a teaspoon of Inner Health plus or similar once a day).

I’ve started my kidlets on it and it’s cleared up my little man’s constant boogers. Happy mummy. Winning.

3. Vitamin D

child-1047175_640Something we’re all lower in over winter, and which may partly account for the increased susceptibility to colds. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of getting the flu in school children.

Vitamin D is best given with dinner; don’t forget to chuck the kids outside whenever there is a sunny day too. Oh, and a trip to Bali or somewhere similar is a GREAT way to get those levels up! Doctor’s orders, ha ha!

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4. Dose up on Garlic

garlic1150105The evidence isn’t very strong, but garlic is safe when eaten as a food (at high doses it can cause thinning of the blood and bleeding problems).

Sneak some garlic into your kids’ dinner (e.g. home made garlic bread or garlicky soup) and you might reduce the risk of them getting a cold.

Treating cold and flu symptoms

sneezing girlOkay, so the dreaded has happened and they’ve caught the cold/flu.Here are some remedies that can help treat the symptons.

  • Vitamin C may reduce the duration of colds, as might zinc lozenges.
  • Echinacea is controversial – it may only reduce cold symptoms by a small degree if taken immediately at the onset, and it can cause allergic reactions so beware (and it’s not suitable for children under 2 years).
  • Honey (half-2 teaspoons) has been shown to decrease night time cough when given at bedtime.
  • Garlic may also help reduce duration of colds – someone once told me to rub garlic over my baby’s feet and cover with warm socks!
  • English ivy extract has been shown to improve chronic bronchitis in children due to its mucolytic effect.
  • And mummy and daddy’s tender loving care go a long way as well 🙂

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I hope that helps and I wish your family all the best for the onslaught!

Have you any tried and tested preventative measures or remedies? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

This post is by Dr Carolyn Ee. Carolyn is a medical doctor and researcher. She blogs about health and her journey to discover the Nirvana of work-family balance. She has a toddler and a three-year-old and a wonderful husband, and returned to full-time work/study in February 2014. In her “spare time” she enjoys running and the occasional eating of cupcakes. Find Carolyn on facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Top Tips for Keeping Your Child Healthy this Winter

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Jennifer, our Editor, has 1 son and admits to munching a Cadbury’s Turkish Delight now and again.