6 Ways to Avoid Coughs and Colds
No matter what you do, your kids are going to be exposed to others who have the sniffles, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll get sick. Our experts share their favorite strategies to help protect your children.
1. Wash hands well Make your child lather up with soap and water after playing outside, using the bathroom, and coming home from preschool or day care, as well as before each meal. Carry hand sanitizer that's at least 60 percent alcohol.
2. Prescribe sleep A lack of sleep nearly doubles the chances of getting sick, says Parents advisor Harley Rotbart, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Aurora. So make sure your child is regularly getting enough zzz's, and set an earlier bedtime if your child has been around someone who's sick.
3. Feed him a good diet Instead of relying on vitamins or supplements, make sure your child eats a lot of colorful fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
4. Bundle up A British study found that getting chilled while cold and flu viruses are circulating may triple your chances of getting sick, says Dr. Rotbart.
5. Discourage eye- and nose-touching Otherwise, you really up your chances of infecting yourself after getting germs on your hands. The enzymes in our mouth provide some defense against germs, but the eyes and the nose don't have that kind of protection, says Linda Davis-Alldritt, R.N., president of the National Association of School Nurses.
6. Teach clever coughing Encourage younger children to "catch" their cough in their bent inner elbow, not in their hand. Older kids can be taught to act like they're holding a cape across their face like Dracula. Teach your children to immediately wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.