Winter Health Tips for Children

Kids: The average child catches 6-10 colds per year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 22 million school days are missed a year due to the common cold. While there is no cure to the common cold, these simple tips can help you arm your child with the defenses they need to stay healthy. At Hyland’s, we believe prevention in key.

  • Teach your kids to wash their hands the right way. While this may seem like common sense, teachers always say that it surprises them how often kids will skip washing their hands. A study by the CDC found that making hand-washing part of your child’s daily routine can reduce absenteeism from school. Since children spend so much time around each other, proper hand washing will ensure that fewer germs spread from their environment into their bodies. Vincent Iannelli, M.D., says that the important thing is to make sure the child scrubs all surfaces of their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Then, make sure they dry their hands with a clean towel, and turn off the sink with that towel, so as not to re-infect their hands.  &
  • Show them the proper cough protocol. A recent study by Otago University in New Zealand found that three out of four people sneeze and cough into their hands. This is a problem because cold and flu viruses spread on saliva droplets produced when someone coughs. Teaching your child to sneeze and cough into the back of their hand, or better yet, their elbow crease, will decrease the rate in which germs are passed to other kids.
  • Discourage sharing of utensils and toys. Germs spread between kids, especially at daycare and school, by children sharing germs through what they touch. If your child is on the verge of getting sick, or you know there is a bug going around at school, pack them their own cup, plates and utensils for meal times. Also, avoid them sharing toys with other children, if at all possible. One great way to get your kids to buy in to this plan is to suggest that they get to bring their favorite cup, plate, lunch box, etc. from home. They will be so proud of their own lunch, they will be less likely to try and share with others.  
  • Don’t give them over the counter cold medicine. The Mayo Clinic does not recommend the use of cough and cold medicine in children. The reason? These medicines do not treat the underlying causes of cold and flu viruses, they only mask the symptoms. Plus, these medicines have potentially harmful side effects, including rapid heart rate and convulsions, that far out way the benefits. Also, when more than one medicine is used at a time, the risk of overdose is a real threat. In 2008, the FDA released a statement discouraging the use of cough and cold medicine in children under two years old. They are currently researching the effects of cold medicine in older children.