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A Healthy Child is a Happy Child

No parent can deny the anxiety and heartache of seeing their child down with a flu or cough. Still, as sure as the mercury drops, it seems like there is no avoiding viruses that make their rounds through homes and daycare facilities each year. If only there was a way to guarantee that your toddler won’t get sick. Is there? No, not really, but you can certainly help your little one log in fewer sick days with a little extra care.

Many common viruses are airborne, so all your toddler need to do is to take a breath within a few feet of a sick person and he’s bound to fall sick himself. Now, before you go banning all sick people from coming within four feet of your child, it wouldn’t harm to be informed that most people stricken by viruses are contagious before they develop any symptoms.

Not a very encouraging piece of info, isn’t it? Still, there are in fact several simple steps you can take to help fend off germs and keep your toddler as healthy as possible all year around.

Make hand-washing a must

Regular hand washing is the simplest, most effective way to get rid of cold and flu bugs. So help your child wash those littles hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet, before meals and snacks, and also upon returning home from daycare, the playground, or a friend’s house. As a parent, you should too, especially before preparing food and after you change a diaper or wipe a runny nose. These days, hand soaps are available in anti-bacterial varieties and they smell really good too!

Make sure your child’s caregivers are also vigilant about hand washing. If your toddler’s in daycare, ask about their hand-washing policies. If it’s less than satisfactory, don’t be shy about requesting a change and reminding caregivers that this protects their health as well.

Teach your child not to touch his eyes or nose

At any given moment, the unwashed human hand is covered with thousands of germs. The action of rubbing one’s eyes or nose helps to deposit those germs directly onto the mucous membranes, where they’re rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

So in addition to hand-washing habits, little ones need to be taught not to rub their eyes or nose. Instead, begin teaching your child to use a tissue — or at least how to use their clean sleeve to relieve teary eyes or an itchy nose.

While you’re at it, you can also teach your little one how to “catch” coughs and sneezes in the crook of his or her arm. This will help keep viruses from spreading too rapidly. With patience, you child will soon learn these tricks which will benefit him and others too, in regards to curbing the spread of sicknesses.

If your child’s in daycare, check the “sick-kid” policy

Make sure your child’s daycare center has a reasonable policy on keeping sick kids away from healthy ones. Many facilities require a child with a fever, the flu, vomiting, diarrhea, or an eye infection to stay home until these symptoms subside.

If you notice obviously sick kids at your child’s daycare on a regular basis, it’s probably time to chat with the caregiver or director about enforcing the rules on sick kids more stringently. (Of course, these kids were contagious before their symptoms showed up, but you still don’t want them sneezing or coughing around your toddler.)

Do what you can to boost your toddler’s immunity naturally.

One way to do this is by paying due attention to your little one’s daily diet. A healthy diet should consist of a rainbow of colours when it comes to food. We’re not referring to colourful candies, of course, but rather, healthy fruits and vegetables! A colourful diet will ensure a growing body gets sufficient nutrients to fight off diseases and stay healthy!

Get your child vaccinated

You can help protect your toddler from some viruses and bacteria by simply keeping up with the yearly flu shots offered by your doctor or at the hospitals.

What to do when your child does get sick

Since children tend to catch the cold a few times a year, the best you can do is make the little one comfortable until the virus works its way out the system. A few tips:

Ask your doctor about saline nose drops.

Saline drops help to thin and clear nasal mucus and relieve congestion. Try it with a bulb syringe If your toddler will let you. Tilt his or her head back slightly, then gently squeeze the bulb to deposit the saline drops in the nose. Next, use the bulb to remove the mucus. Repeat this process several times a day.

Rest, baby… rest.

While this may be easier said than done, the more rest your child gets, the sooner recovery might take place. A nap or two a day will do wonders.

If a child does not want to rest, find some quiet activities to share — reading, watching a video, or play with puppets together.

Use a humidifier.

This is especially important during hot and dry nights, when a persistent cough or difficulty breathing can prevent your child from getting sufficient rest. The moist air from a humidifier can help to thin your toddler’s mucous secretions, helping to calm a cough and relieve congestion.

Urge your child to drink up.

Children lose body fluids quickly when they’re sick — especially if they’re running a fever or have diarrhea. To replenish these fluids, encourage your child to drink plenty of liquids, such as water, juice, an electrolyte solution, or milk. By the way, there’s no scientific proof that dairy products make congestion worse.

If your child turns that little nose up at water, try offering extra-juicy fruit (such as watermelon or oranges) or even a frozen juice pop. One old wives’ tale that is worth taking to heart: Warm chicken soup helps relieve cold symptoms by soothing a sore throat and thinning nasal secretions.

Know when to call the doctor.

While most viruses clear up on their own within several days, some can turn into more serious conditions that require prompt treatment.

Call the doctor if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • Ear or face pain, which can signal an ear infection
  • A very sore throat that interferes even with drinking of fluids
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing (a possible sign of a bronchial infection or pneumonia)
  • Diarrhea or vomiting, which can lead to dehydration
  • A fever of 103 degrees or higher, or a milder fever that lasts for more than three days

Have some cuddling time

When kids are feeling under the weather, they will surely need a little extra TLC. So in addition to cooking special meals, running for the tissue box, and keeping a constant watch on your toddler’s temperature, make time too for some cozy cuddles!

Offer lots of hugs and time on your lap during the day, and if you normally have a “no kids in mum and dad’s bed” rule at night, think about temporarily relaxing the policy. (Of course, you may soon be sniffling yourself, but it’s part of parental love.)

Keep it all in perspective

When you’re taking care of a sick, miserable toddler, try to remember that most bouts of cough, cold or flu pass in a week or so — and all of them will ultimately help strengthen your child’s immune system.

As your toddler gets older and builds up immunity to viruses through a healthy diet, good hygiene habits and health practices, you will find that the little tiger will log fewer and fewer sick days. So, stay positive!

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