Keeping Your Children Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Parent lesson #687:  Perhaps letting my daughter dive into her favorite ball pit at our local indoor play gym….in mid-January…with twelve other drippy nosed, 9-18 month old kids…was not such a brilliant idea. Although I can’t specifically quantify how much she loves those brightly colored, slobbery balls, I can put an exact number on the temperature she recorded at the Pediatrician’s office yesterday – 103.7 with a positive test for strep. So in honor of that loveliness, I have been inspired to review some cold & flu season prevention tips (for myself, especially). I will attempt to put them in quick bullet format to avoid rambling.

1) Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently, with soap and water for 20 seconds (Happy Birthday twice = 20 sec). Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
2) Teach your kids to sneeze into their elbow, if they don’t have a tissue handy.
3) For those with younger kids: remember to wash your baby or toddler’s hands as much as you wash your own, despite protests and squirming.
4) Bundle up the kids and go outside, if you can, instead of hanging out in densely populated, indoor areas with other sick people (malls, arcades, restaurants, fast food indoor playgrounds, etc). Remember the flu virus spreads easily when respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze move through the air to the mouth or nose of others in close proximity. The same goes for the bacteria that causes strep throat.
5) If you know someone is sick, think about politely skipping your visit, especially if you have children.
6) Clean and disinfect highly used surfaces. Studies have shown that the cold virus can survive up to two days on household surfaces! These locations are germ hotbeds:

Telephones and Cell Phones
Keyboards (to include iPads and your mouse)
Doorknobs
Refrigerator door handles
Light switches
Remote controls
Bathroom and kitchen faucets
Dishwasher handles
Kitchen Sponges
Salt and pepper shakers
Toothbrushes

7) Wash plastic toys in soap and hot water. Consider putting cloth books or plush toys into the laundry (wrap in a pillowcase for protection).                                          8) Do not share, or “finish off”, a baby or toddler’s uneaten food with their spoon. Do not “sample” their food while feeding them with your fingers. Wash your hands after feedings and nose wipes.
9) Replace your toothbrush to avoid becoming reinfected after sickness and consider using separate toothpaste tubes for your kids. Studies have shown that as many as 10 million germs and bacteria can be found on a single toothbrush. These germs can consist of the cold virus, influenza virus, herpes simplex I virus, taphylococci, streptococci, and bacteria that may cause diarrhea as well as gum disease. Yuck! Does Costco sell toothbrushes in bulk?
10) Keep a sick child at home and avoid traveling until he’s feeling better–typically 24 hours after his fever is gone.

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