little boy with a stethoscope on his teddy bear

Get the Tips, Not the Flu (5 Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy This Season)

Is it really any coincidence that flu season and back-to-school season happen at the same time? While some kids come down with a case of, “I-don’t-want-to-go-to-schoolitis,” some really do catch the flu. As a parent, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle trying to keep your kid from getting sick, so we’ve come up with some tips and tricks to keep your kids happy and healthy.

The first thing to remember is that according to the Center for Disease Control, the single best way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated. However, there are other healthy habits they recommend to ensure both you and your kids stay healthy this year. We know that sometimes tips like these are easy to read about, but difficult to put into practice. That’s why we’ve created our own helpful suggestions on how to implement these guidelines.

    1. Wash your hands before every meal.
      This may seem like a no brainer, but make sure to remind your kids to wash their hands before every meal. This can be difficult to enforce when they’re away at school, so a neat trick is to buy some hand sanitizer and attach it to their backpack or lunchbox. This way they’ll see it when reaching for their food and remember to clean their hands.
    2. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing/sneezing.
      This may seem like another no brainer, but covering your mouth and nose with a tissue aids in eliminating the dispersal of germs to others. The flu and other respiratory illnesses are spread through coughing, sneezing, and unclean hands. Make sure you and your kids always have a travel pack of tissues on hand for the convenience of getting to pull one out anytime you feel that tell-tale tickle. If a tissue is not available, remember it is best to still cover your sneeze and cough with the crook of your elbow. A fun way to teach kids this trick is to call it the “vampire cough.”
    3. Get plenty of sleep.
      The CDC also recommends practicing healthy habits like getting enough sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep, and younger children may need 10 or more hours of sleep to receive the immunity benefits sleep can provide.
      One way to make sure your kids are getting enough sleep is to cut off screen time at least an hour before bed. According to Harvard researchers, nighttime exposure to blue light can decrease the production of melatonin needed to sleep soundly. Encourage your kids to read a book before going to bed instead.
    4. Promote family activity.
      Being physically active doesn’t have to mean taking your kids to the gym every day; it can mean turning one period of inactivity into a slightly more active one. One way to do this as a family is to take a 15 to 30 minute walk before or after dinner. Too cold for a family walk? Have a family dance party while you do the dishes, or some other active group activity like sock skating or a pillow fight.
    5. Stay at home.
      So, you tried all of the steps above, but still ended up catching the flu. If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. The CDC recommends staying home at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (unless it’s an emergency, of course). This will help prevent spreading your illness to others and help aid in your own recovery process. Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.

We hope these tips and tricks allow you and your kids to stay healthy this flu season.