School Year Sniffles: How to Keep Kids Healthy in the Coming Year
Not only does the start of school coincide with the start of flu season, but the return to classes means your kids will be exposed to all sorts of new germs. Here are a few steps you can take to help your child ward off colds and other ailments during the coming school year.
Wash Hands Frequently
This is the most important step to limit the germs your kids come in contact with. Teach them to wash anytime they sneeze, blow their nose, go to the bathroom, or get done playing outside. And check to make sure they’re doing so effectively.
Avoid Hand to Mouth Contact
Even if your kids wash hands frequently, some germs may survive. Teaching them to avoid contact with their eyes and mouth can help keep these pervasive germs from spreading and causing illness. Get them in the habit of using a tissue or napkin if they need to touch their face.
Get Enough Sleep
Elementary-aged children should get at least 10-11 hours of sleep each night. Begin shifting your schedule back to school-year hours at least a few weeks before the start of the semester. Younger kids may also need a nap to recharge after a long day at school. Better sleep means a better immune system as well, so be sure kids are well rested.
Keep Hair Dirty
The words “lice outbreak” are enough to send shivers down any parent’s spine. But if it happens in your child’s classroom, avoid washing their hair for a day or two. It may sound counterintuitive, but lice prefer clean hair. Keeping long hair braided can help prevent a visit to the lice removal center as well. If you do need extra help, places like Heartland Healthy Heads can give you tips and pointers on how to get rid of lice at home.
Don’t Share Food
Make sure your child knows that sharing water bottles, snacks, and other food and drink items with friends can cause the spread of germs. They should also avoid sharing personal items like hairbrushes, hats, and makeup (for older kids).
Cover Sneezes and Coughs
Teach your child the proper way to cover a sneeze or a cough. Instead of covering the mouth with a hand, use the crook of the elbow to prevent contamination. Supply your child with tissues and hand sanitizer to keep at their desk and to use in case of a sneeze or cough during class.
Eat Healthy, Well-Balanced Meals
Make sure your child gets a variety of nutritious foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein is necessary to keep your child energized through the day, so go for healthy proteins like whole grain cereals, scrambled eggs, fruit, and yogurt smoothies or a veggie omelet.
By taking these steps, your child will be less likely to succumb to the sniffles this school year.
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