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Keeping Kids Free of the Common Cold

You know your children catch colds -- lots of them. But do you know why? Here are some tips on what's behind colds and how to keep them away.

  • Don't let them share cups. Avoid letting your children share cups -- they'll also be sharing germs. In addition, use paper cups whenever you or your child has a cold; germs can hang around on drinking glasses. By tossing paper cups out after each use you can prevent the spread of germs.
  • Teach them to use tissues. This may seem obvious, but teach your child to use tissues whenever sneezing or blowing his nose. This will prevent infection from spreading through the air.
  • Enforce hand washing. Soap and water are the best tools for stopping the flow of cold and flu viruses. Show your child how to wash his hands thoroughly and have him do so often throughout the day, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • Be vigilant about day-care hygiene. If your child is in a day-care arrangement with other kids, he'll be exposed to more viruses, so make sure he practices good hygiene. Don't let him share food or utensils with other kids, and teach him to wash his hands frequently with soap and water. Check to make sure that the toys children share are washed regularly.
  • Make sure they get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep can take a toll on your child's immune system, leaving her more vulnerable to colds.
  • Discourage them from touching their eyes and nose. Most cold viruses are spread by hand contact. By touching a surface that's been touched by an infected person, your child may introduce the virus to his system through the mucous membranes in his eyes or nose.
  • Stock up on vitamin C. Feed your kids oranges, grapefruits, potatoes, green peppers, strawberries, and pineapples -- they're loaded with vitamin C, which can boost their immune system and keep those colds away.

Reviewed 2/02 by Jane Forester, MD

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.