Every year when winter hits, we wonder how can we keep our children from getting sick. It’s a good question but there are no easy answers. Cold and flu viruses can spread like wildfire through homes, daycare and schools during the cooler months and there’s no way to guarantee your children will avoid them.
Don’t give up without a fight though. You can help keep the bugs at bay by following a few of these ideas:
Regular hand washing is the simplest, most effective way to get rid of cold and flu bugs. Teach your child to wash their hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet, before meals and snacks and after school, the playground and friends’ houses.
It’s a good idea to keep your children home from school when they’re sick. Most schools require children with a fever, the flu, an upper respiratory infection, vomiting, diarrhoea, an eye infection or a contagious rash to stay home until these symptoms subside.
Eat, sleep and play well
Offer your child a variety of healthy foods so they get the nutrients they need. Make sure they get plenty of sleep each night, along with plenty of physical activity and fresh air every day.
When sickness hits
Children may average six to eight colds a year so it’s highly likely your child will bring home a few bugs this season. When it happens, make them as comfortable as possible and remember these tips to help them feel better:
- Rest: The more your child gets, the sooner they’ll recover. Encourage relaxing activities like reading, videos, puzzles, drawing or a quiet game.
- Rehydrate: Children lose body fluid quickly when sick, so encourage them to drink water, juice, electrolyte solutions or milk.
- Relieve: If they’re really uncomfortable, give your child paracetamol, such as Pamol®. Paracetamol is the recommended first line medicine for relief from pain and fever in children1, and the only pain and fever medicine recommended for use in babies under 12 months without a doctor’s advice2.
- Review: While most viruses clear up within a few days, some turn into more serious conditions that require prompt treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s health, contact your healthcare professional for advice.
When children are under the weather, they need extra TLC, so make time for cuddles. Cozy up and watch a video together, give plenty of hugs and if you normally have a “no kids in the big bed” rule at night, think about temporarily relaxing the policy.
The big picture
When taking care of a sick, miserable child, try to remember that most illnesses pass in a week or so and all of them will ultimately help strengthen your child’s immune system. As your child gets older and builds up immunity to viruses, they’ll clock fewer sick days. In the meantime, keep up the hand washing and hugs, and stock up on tissues.
References: 1. Avoiding medication errors in children: a practical guide for healthcare professionals. BPJ issue 29, Jul 2010. 2. Medsafe Label Statements Database Edition 1.15 Dec 2014.
PAMOL® for the treatment of child pain and fever. Always read the label and use as directed. Incorrect use can be harmful. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. ® Registered Trademark. Aspen Pharmacare C/- Healthcare Logistics, Auckland, TAPS PP6323