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How to Keep Kids From Getting Sick

Updated on April 10, 2010

Web MD tells us, “Statistics show that preschool-aged children have around nine colds per year, kindergartners can have twelve colds per year, and adolescents and adults have about seven colds per year.”

Nine? Twelve? Seven? Every year?!?

Kids and colds seem to go together almost as naturally as pigs and mud, and this is partly to be expected. Children’s immune systems are still developing, and they come down with more viruses than an adult as they build up antibodies to the germs they’re exposed to.

But this doesn’t mean your child needs to suffer needlessly in order to build up their immune system. You can often prevent your child from developing colds and the flu, here’s how:

This is the way we wash out hands…

Hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent sickness and bacteria. Teach your children to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after leaving a public place. Make sure you also teach them to wash correctly: rinse, lather for 20 seconds (they can sing a song while they scrub), rinse thoroughly, and dry.

Ah-choo!!! With style

Whether you know it or not, there is a right and wrong way to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Teach your kids to cover their mouth with the elbow instead of their hands, and they’ll prevent one of the greatest causes of spreading germs.

Use the Gel (or foam or lotion…)

When soap and water are not available, contrary to popular belief, sanitizing hand gel is extremely effective when used properly. Apply an ample amount to your hands and rub vigorously until it’s completely dry. Some studies even show hand gel to be better at killing virus-causing-bacteria than soap and water.

Teach Them NOT to Share

Sharing is commendable- most of the time. But when your child is sick, or they are around another sick child, you don’t want them passing slobbery toys back and forth or sipping on each other’s cups. As early as possible, it’s okay to tell your child not to share food or drinks with another child. You can also encourage your child to keep their distance from friends who have a runny nose.

Germs 101

Help your kids understand germs and how they spread. Put a little glitter on their hands and have them rub them together. Now take ten to fifteen minutes and let them go about their business, or lead them through playing with toys, holding hands, and playtime on the floor. Let them look around at the end of the time allotted at all the places the glitter has ended up. An “aha moment”!

Leave It Home

As much as they ask- even beg- make it a policy early on that your child’s favorite toy or blankie stays at home. This will prevent it from picking up germs while you’re out and about for you to bring back home with you. As an added bonus- this will greatly decrease the chance of your child losing their “lovey”!

Get Out of My Face

Just as with their little friends, when you’re the one who is sick, do you best to stay away from your child’s face. This isn’t the time for sloppy kisses, rubbing noses, or raspberries blown on chubby little cheeks. This one should be common sense, but “common sense” isn’t as common as it once was.

Watch What You Eat

Your child’s diet matters a great deal when it comes to their ability to fight off viruses and infections. And we’re not just talking about taking a daily gummy vitamin, vitamins from food are much more potent and effective when it comes to preventing sickness. A diet high in fruits and vegetables builds up the immune system, but it should be balanced in all the food groups.

ZZZ’s Matter

And while we’re on the subject of daily habits that matter, let’s talk about sleep too. People who don’t get enough sleep are three times more susceptible to colds than those who get their recommended amount of rest. For children this means: babies two months to twelve years need 14-15 hours, one to three years need 12-14 hours, three to five year olds need 11-13, and five to twelve year olds need 10-11 hours of sleep per day. (For young children, this includes naps.)

Get Those Vaccines

This one should go without saying as well, but it’s worth saying so it’s being said. One of the best ways to prevent your children from getting unnecessary, unwanted illnesses and even serious diseases is to keep on top of their doctor’s recommended vaccination schedule for their age.

Keep It Clean

Clean those areas of your house that are sometimes left in the dust, the ones that get touched over and over but rarely get cleaned Take a disinfecting wipe or a cloth sprayed with cleansing solution and wipe over doorknobs, handles of appliances such as the refrigerator and oven, buttons on the phone, and the remote control.

No More Butts

You’ve heard it before, but it will continue to be said. If you haven’t quit smoking yet, do. Secondhand smoke compromises your child’s immune and respiratory systems. Help keep them and yourself healthy by cutting out cigarettes.


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