Winter fun, happy kid playing with snowmanWe’re right in the middle of cold and flu season, and that means your little (and not so little) bundles of joy are often bundles of germs as well.
Great Schools recently published an article with five tricks to keep your child healthy during cold and flu season.

  • Wash your hands. An estimated 80 percent of all colds and flu are contracted by our fingers, and the best and simplest way to avoid getting sick is to wash hands with soap and water.
  • Protect your face. Children’s hands are often on their face, helping germs gain entry to easily infected warm, moist orifices. Noses and mouths are the most obvious locations for germs to get in, but eyes are the most at risk for absorbing viral particles. Teach your child to avoid eye-rubbing and to close their eyes or walk away when someone coughs or sneezes near them.
  • Salt can help. Salt can be a germ-killing infection fighter, but these approaches may not be popular with kids. Nasal washing with a neti pot or a squirt bottle designed for the job can help cut sick days and school absences in half. Gargling with salt water can also prevent sore throats.
  • Go out and play. Even when it’s cold, kids should go outside and play, especially if the sun is shining. Sunshine causes the body to produce cold and flu fighting vitamin D, which activates our protective killer T-cells. Just be sure they’re bundled up with appropriate clothing.
  • Stay warm and toasty. You probably rolled your eyes when your mother told you to put on a coat to avoid catching a cold, but it turns out that your mother was right (again). Researchers who had subjects chill their feet in ice water were more than twice as likely to develop a cold in the next four or five days. Another study showed that sauna users were less likely to catch a cold as well. So follow in your mother’s footsteps and tell your kids to put on their coat when they’re headed out the door.

The full article has additional details on each of these points, so be sure to check it out. You should also swing by National PTA’s Healthy Habits program page for information on proper hand-washing and other cold and flu fighting tips.