Rule #8: Scrub that humidifier. If you use cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers, follow the directions, clean them often, and change the water daily. Pediatricians recommend humidifiers to counter the effect of dry winter heat on kids' sensitive membranes. But these become enormous bacterial breeding grounds if you don't treat them right. Better yet, get one of the latest models with a dishwasher-safe tank.
Rule #9: Clean, clean, clean. If you have a child with asthma or allergies, of course you'll want to talk to your doctors and check local groups for detailed instructions on what you can do to minimize dust mites and the like. But what we all should do, even those of us who tend to breathe freely, is suck/mop/sponge up the dust at least twice a week.
But do it right or, again, you'll stir up more problems than you resolve. Damp mop or sponge sills and floors, and use a HEPA-filter vacuum to vacuum floors and furniture (and look under those couch cushions).
Excerpted from The City Parent Handbook: The Complete Guide to the Ups and Downs and Ins and Outs of Raising Young Kids in the City (Rodale, 2004) by Kathy Bishop and Julia Whitehead. Both women live, and parent, in New York City.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.