No matter how liberally you apply hand sanitizer to your kids — and their toys — potential flu-causing germs are everywhere. While you can’t prevent your child from getting sick completely, there are some things you can do to limit the number of sick days your child gets. We called up Dr. Harley Rotbart, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and author of “No Regrets Parenting” for his tips.
Keep them bundled up. Dr. Rotbart says there is something to the old adage that if you leave the house without a coat, you’re going to catch a cold. “[A child] won’t catch an immediate cold as soon as they walk outside without proper clothing, but they could likely get sick a few days later,” he says. Dr. Rotbart says the virus that causes the common cold thrives in cold environments, so as much as your child may persist, make sure he or she is wearing a coat, hat, gloves, scarf and boots when going outside.
Load them up on vitamin C. “There have been a couple dozen studies showing that people who have high intakes of vitamin C daily have shorter and less severe colds,” Dr. Rotbart says. A vitamin C-rich diet won’t stop your child from getting sick, but it will help them fight the cold off faster. So besides oranges, some other vitamin C-rich fruits worth stocking up on are strawberries, pineapples and kiwi.
Limit the video game playing. According to our expert, numerous studies have shown that people who exercise on a regular basis get sick 50 percent less than those who don’t. While the studies have only been done in adults because its hard to scientifically measure a child’s exercise level, Dr. Rotbart says the findings no doubt translate over to kids. “The difference is dramatic,” he says.
Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. This may be a no-brainer and somewhat of a cliché, but it’s one of the most important ways to keep your child healthy. Dr. Rotbart says day care teachers should have kids wash their hands after playing with shared toys, and parents should carry hand sanitizer for situations where there is no soap and water around, like after riding the subway.
Vaccinate your kids. “The absence of vaccines cause diseases that are potentially life-threatening,” Dr. Rotbart says. So despite what certain Hollywood A-listers are doing, this is the most important way you can keep your child healthy.