Believe it or not, flu season has arrived. Did you know that the average sneeze travels at 100mph? Or that an average cough expels 3,000 droplets of saliva at an average speed of 50mph? This is the time of year where everyone starts to get sick, and children are especially susceptible. Their immune systems aren’t as developed as an adult’s. They don’t always practice the same hygiene and common sense that adults do. In America, about 20,000 toddlers are hospitalized with the flu each year. Getting a flu shot for your child is probably the best defense for flu prevention, but they’re not a universal fix and not everyone believes in getting them. There are other flu prevention tips you can practice with your toddler to keep them from falling ill this season.

#1 Flu Prevention Tip: Keep Hands Clean

The best way to avoid the flu is by ensuring your child practices good hygiene and washes their hands throughout the day. Cleaning their hands of any germs they may have picked up before touching their eyes, mouth, or food is a key aspect in flu prevention. If possible, make sure your child washes their hands especially after using the bathroom, before eating, or whenever they’re dirty.

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Also, make sure your child is really washing their hands and using soap and water. Simply running water over their hands and rubbing them dry will not remove nearly as many germs as a soap lather will.

Practice Good Manners

Toddlers don’t always understand to keep their distance when they or others are sick. It’s never too early to start teaching polite manners when they or someone they know is sick.

Teach your child to politely cough or sneeze into their elbow to avoid spreading germs on their hands. Using tissues for runny noses is preferable to sleeves or blankets. For best flu prevention, try and keep them from sharing cups and utensils.

There’s only so much you can control while your child is at school, but the earlier you start enforcing these concepts, the more likely they are to take root.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Exercise helps the body stay healthy and boosts the immune system. When the temperature starts to drop, kids tend to stay inside, which results in less exercise. Try and plan extra activities to get their blood pumping and their bodies moving. These activities could be as simple as a scavenger hunt around the yard, or a thrilling game of hide and seek around the inside of the house.

Vitamin C

Many foods are fortified with vitamin C, but it’s not a bad idea to supplement your toddler’s diet with a little extra boost during the winter months. Vitamin C is essential for the immune system as it aids the growth and repair of all cells and tissue in the body. Consult your pediatrician for the correct dosage for your child.

Keep Your Home a “Safe Zone”

Inevitably, someone in your household is going to get sick. Do your best to minimize the damage when this occurs. Disinfect surfaces routinely, especially spots like door handles, taps, and toys, and wash your hands frequently. Don’t leave used tissues lying around, and try not to cough or sneeze into your hands.

The flu virus thrives in low-humidity environments, which is why it’s so prevalent during the winter months when the indoor air is especially dry. Try setting a humidifier up in your house, perhaps even in your child’s bedroom. The moisture in the air will aid flu prevention, and may also help decrease coughing.

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Always Be Prepared

During flu season, it’s not a bad idea to add a few disinfectants and antibacterials to your arsenal of day-to-day traveling supplies. Keeping hand sanitizer and sterilizing wipes with you when you’re out and about with your child can go a long way in flu prevention. You can quickly wipe down surfaces your toddler may touch, such as the shopping cart at the grocery store, or the seat on the bus.

You can give your child a spritz or drop of hand sanitizer if they’ve come into contact with something, or someone, questionable. Just make sure they rub their hands until they’re dry – otherwise, they risk ingesting the alcohol if they put their hands in their mouth, or getting it in their eyes.  

If you think your child may be coming down with something, try to avoid places or people that may make it worse. You can’t keep them away from school, of course, but you can insist they avoid going over a sick friend’s house. You can also try to avoid unnecessary visits to public places where germs thrive, such as public transportation, malls, movie theaters, etc.

Stay Safe and Healthy This Flu Season!

Home Away From Home Academy is a top preschool located on the border of Aberdeen and Holmdel, NJ. We provide children with a safe, enriching, and challenging environment where they can learn and grow as individuals. Learn more about why we’re leaders in early childhood education, or contact us today to learn more about the programs we offer.