Preventing Cold and Flu in Children

Cold and flu season is upon us, and many of your child’s friends may already have succumbed to sniffles, sneezing, and a runny nose. In fact, more than 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized due to the flu each year in America.

Even though your child can’t be guaranteed an illness-free winter, there are some precautions you can take to lower the odds.

  • Help your child wash her hands before and after every meal, after using the toilet, and after playing outside.
  • Teach your child to cough or sneeze into the crook of his elbow instead of his hands.
  • Strengthen your child’s immunity with healthy foods and plenty of sleep.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the yearly flu vaccine, which protects against viruses that research suggests will be common that year.
  • Clean germs off from high-traffic areas such as doorknobs, countertops, tables, and toys.
  • Discourage sharing of food or drinks, even if the other person isn’t sick. This will help establish the habit for the future.
  • Don’t force your child to attend a party or playdate if she isn’t feeling well. This can help prevent the spread of germs to other children.
  • Keep active! Exercise helps to boost the immune system. Weather permitting, always try to go outside as a family and get moving!
  • Reduce your time spent in crowded areas during cold and flu season, which peaks between December and March.
  • Keep your child away from obviously sick people as much as possible. If contact is unavoidable, ensure your child washes his hands afterwards and avoids touching his eyes, nose, or mouth.

While there is unfortunately no cure for the common cold or the flu, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of your child becoming ill this year, as well as spreading germs to others.