This is the season for runny noses, fevers, and germs everywhere: winter. As parents, we often dread the cold and snowy months. Whether it’s a cold, the flu, RSV, strep throat, or COVID-19, it’s usually the time of year when so many of our kids get sick. There are steps you can take to help your kids stay as healthy as possible through the winter.
Some germs will undoubtedly make their way into your home. It may be unavoidable. When it comes to winter health, there are some things you and your children can do to try your best to leave those germs behind and lessen the risk of getting sick.
- Encourage kids to avoid people who are obviously sick.
- Get a yearly flu shot.
- Minimize or avoid infections by not taking your newborn or younger infant out and around a lot of other people until he is older.
- Take a reusable water bottle to school instead of using the school water fountain, which may become contaminated with germs, especially during cold and flu season.
- Teach good handwashing techniques.
- Teach your kids ‘cough etiquette.’ The American Academy of Pediatrics describes recommends teaching children to turn their heads and cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or the inside of their elbow. Simply coughing or sneezing on their hands will then spread their germs onto everything they touch.
How to Handle Specific Medical Conditions
Unfortunately, washing your hands and getting a flu shot won’t help you avoid other health problems that can be triggered by winter weather. You or your children may have conditions that are exacerbated during the winter months.
Chronic Coughing: Many kids have a cough during cold and flu season when they get sick. But if your child typically develops a chronic cough that lasts most of the winter, then ask their pediatrician if they might have asthma.
Dry Skin: A lack of humidity from the cold, dry air outside and the warm, dry air inside often leads kids to have itchy, dry skin during the winter. This can especially be a problem on a child’s hands, which is made worse by frequent hand washing, and around his mouth (perioral dermatitis). Using a mild soap or soap substitute when your child bathes and then quickly applying a moisturizer for eczema within a few minutes can help to avoid and treat dry skin. You may have to reapply the moisturizer several times during the day though.
Nosebleeds: When caused by dry air, nosebleeds can be prevented by moisturizing your child’s nose with saline spray or a nasal gel each day. Keep in mind kids can also get nosebleeds when they have colds, sinus infections, or allergies.
Tips To Remember
Keep your kids physically active during the winter: It is often too cold for outdoor sports unless you live in an area where you can play ice hockey or regularly go skiing or snowboarding. Kids can stay active in the winter by taking up an indoor sport, such as basketball, indoor soccer, indoor flag football, or volleyball.
Dress kids appropriately for the cold weather: You should typically add one extra layer to whatever an adult would wear to be comfortable. Kids should wear several layers of loose-fitting, light, tightly woven clothing under a heavy jacket to keep them warm when they are outside. Don’t forget mittens or gloves, a hat, a scarf, and waterproof boots, especially if they are going to play in the snow.