While colds and even mild flu are expected during the cold months to come, parents worry about keeping their kids as healthy as they can. With a few commonsense precautions, you and your family can avoid misery this winter.
Your kids will bring germs home with them from school, and you will bring them home from work. You cannot avoid this -- it's life -- but it does not mean everyone will get sick. Here’s what to do to keep you and your kids well this winter.
1. Eat right: Encourage your kids to eat three meals a day. This means starting with a nourishing breakfast and ending with a rounded supper that includes some protein, complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, whole grains) and vegetables.
2. Drink right: Make sure your kids drink enough water, milk, and juice during the winter. It may not feel hot outside, but this does not mean our bodies don’t need hydration. Stay away from sugary soda and too much pure fruit juice.
3. Eat Fruit: Whole fruit — rather than juice — is very good for everyone. The concentration of sugar is offset by the fiber in the fruit. The vitamins are terrific for warding off colds.
4. Just a little fat: Not all fat is bad! Your kids may need extra fat in the cold weather, actually, but make sure it’s good fat: olive oil, canola oil, and low-fat cheeses and other dairy products. Toddlers need whole milk but older kids do fine with low-fat.
5. Get enough sleep: Winter is a good time for sleeping, but it’s still something parents need to watch. Kids who stay up late and then get up early for school wear down more easily than those who get a good seven or eight hours of shut-eye a night. Mom and Dad should try to get as much sleep as possible, too!
6. Avoid the screen: We all like to settle in on a cold night with a good movie and a bowl of popcorn, but don’t let the cold weather keep you and the kids from exercising. Get outdoors! Skate, ski, build snowmen. Walk in the park or along the beach. Sign the kids up for basketball, swimming, and other indoor sports. It’s too easy to become official coach potatoes when the weather turns cold.
7. Wash your hands: This may be the most important caveat when it comes to staying healthy. Doctors and other health experts agree washing your hands as often as you can is the best way to protect yourself from cold germs. The whole family should wash before cooking and before meals, when they arrive home after being at school or work — and any time in between!
It's hard to avoid colds, or even the flu, sometimes. If you come down with one or the other, keep warm, stay in bed, drink fluids and try not to expose too many others to it. Don't hesitate to call the doctor if you or your child is miserable.