Get Your Kids Ready for Cold & Flu Season With Tips from Dr. JJ
No doubt your little ones are back in the throes of school. Temperatures may still be mild, thus lulling us into the false impression that it’s still summer, and that our kids are immune from those maladies we associate with cold weather. But with a return to the indoors, illnesses start to pop up more frequently. When we shut windows, live closer to each other, and don’t have the benefit of good ventilation, germs have the ability to circulate and pole-vault…so here are some tips to keep your kids healthier as we round the bend into fall:
Sleep: Make sure that your kids are on a regular sleep schedule Sunday through Thursday. All kids need at least 8-10 hours of solid sleep to function emotionally, physically and intellectually at their best. If your older kids participate in sleepovers, Friday night is the most ideal night (allowing for a little recovery on Saturday), and if kids sleep over on Saturday, make sure the host parents insist the kids are asleep by 10 or 11pm.
Nutrition: I can’t overemphasize the value of proper nutrition when it comes to school performance. Children who start school without a protein-rich breakfast have more of a risk of vascillating blood sugars, leading to inattention, emotional lability and fatigue. Make sure there is a hearty serving of protein (egg, peanut butter, yogurt, breakfast meats) along with complex carbohydrates (like whole grain cereal, oatmeal, whole grain breads) that keep blood sugar levels, well, level. Pack a lunch that you know your child will eat, and try your best to get that protein in, as well as some calcium (cheese, milk, yogurt, calcium enriched orange juice) and potassium (oranges, banana, avocado, dried fruit) to feed their muscles for sports and activity. Pack water (ideally freeze it the night before to cool lunch, and refresh when defrosted) for midday, and extra if your child is participating in after-school sports. Make sure you pack some non-bruisable fresh fruit, nuts and healthy cereal bars if your child is involved in after-school activities.
Sports/Athletic Activities: If your children are involved in formal sports activities, discuss their involvement with your healthcare provider and make sure a pre-participation physical is done. Your doctor can counsel you and your child about recognition of injury, appropriate nutrition/hydration for your chosen sport, and any other advice tailored to your child’s sport.
Handwashing: Get your children in the habit of washing their hands before meals at home, and when arriving from school. Our young kids’ teachers are usually pretty good about little ones to wipe hands before snack and meals at school. As winter approaches and flu season starts to flourish, it's also not a bad idea to provide your child’s classroom teacher with wet wipes for all the kids--it’s cheap, but staves the spread of germs.
Flu Vaccine: Believe it or not, it’s best to immunize before flu season starts. All children, from age six months and up, should receive flu vaccine yearly. If your child has received the flu vaccine before, only one dose is usually necessary. If your child is under the age of 8 and has never received flu vaccine, then two doses (given four weeks apart) are necessary the first year, and then once yearly thereafter.