We all have a lot on our plate this time of year. Between last minute family gatherings, all the sugar of Christmas cookies and other holiday goodies, and the stress of getting it all done, everyone can get a little run, including the kids. To really enjoy the season, though, everyone needs to stay healthy. Use these tips to keep the kids healthy during the holidays and boost your defenses as well. ‘Tis the season for beating sickness!
1. Ward off germs.
The holiday season is full of family gatherings, airport and travel stops, shopping malls, and even school – all places where germs congregate. Protect your kiddos from these germs by making sure they get a flu vaccine and wash their hands a lot. The holidays may be all about sharing, but germs are one things you don’t want shared. Remind your kids to keep their forks, spoons, and drinking cups to themselves. People are often contagious even before they know they’re sick.
2. Encourage healthy eating.
Many holiday foods are high in calories and low in nutrition and important nutrients needed to fight germs and increase energy. Encourage healthy eating by giving your kids five or more fruits and vegetables a day (the fruit rather than juice to keep kids feeling fuller longer and avoiding the added sugar). Make sure to have easy snacks, like apples and baby carrots, on hand, and pack a healthy nutritious lunch to send with them to school.
3. Increase sleep.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep at night is an important component of good health. Make sure your kiddos are getting at least 8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep each night to increase their immune systems and increase overall energy. Adequate sleep will also reduce stress for everyone in the family.
4. Increase water intake.
Water helps flush the body of germs and toxins. Be sure to increase your child’s water intake as well as your own. If you kids aren’t very interested in drinking water, get a little creative. Make it a competition to see who can drink the most water in a day, or get them festive cups to use only for their water.
5. Reduce sugar intake.
Obviously this is going to be a little tough to do this time of year, but recent studies have shown that sugar interferes with the body’s immune system. Put a few rules in place to reduce your little one’s intake of sugar and prevent temper tantrums. Limiting sugar to one treat at special events and replacing other candies with fruit and other “sweet” foods at home should help.
6. Keep hands clean.
Kiddos are prone to sticking the hands and fingers in the mouths and noses. If this is true of your littles, help them keep them clean. Extra hand washing is a must, but if you are in a pinch wipes or sanitizer are a good substitute. A gentle saline rinse in the morning can also help clear the nasal passages in the morning to clear the nasal passages and reduce nose picking.
7. Encourage appropriate nose blowing/coughing.
Kids are notorious for spreading germs through sneezes and coughs. Help avoid the extra germ exposure by teaching effective habits. Remind them to avoid putting their fingers in their noses and to use a tissue instead. Also implement the cough in the elbow trick, and make sure you model this one for them too. Also remind them they need to wash their hands any time they do blow their noses or cough in their hands.
8. Quarantine quick.
If someone in your family does end up sick, consider quarantining them quickly. Okay, so obviously, it’s not going to be too much fun for anyone to be quarantined for the holidays, but see what you can do to make it fun and festive. Create a space for your child by the tree. You could even make it something fun by pretending it’s the North Pole or part of Santa’s workshop. Whether you get elaborate and build something more realistic or just set up a blanket fort, being by the tree with some festive books, a cozy blanket, and some yummy snacks will make the quarantine a bit more fun for everyone.
The holiday season is prime-time for germs and sickness, but you can go a long way toward keeping your family healthy with these simple tips. Instill these habits in your family now, and you’ll all be able to celebrate a happy, healthy holiday.
This guest post contribution is courtesy of Idaho Falls Pediatrics, the pediatric doctor near Idaho Falls that local families have come to know and trust for great care.
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