By Alison Cupp Relyea
Now that winter is upon us, many of us have had the first round of colds or other illnesses come through the house. Getting sick is uncomfortable, but it can also be a huge inconvenience as you cancel plans, miss days at work and do extra laundry! Here are a few simple practices for you and your family to prevent illnesses and to be prepared when something comes up.
Young children get sick, particularly if they are in group settings often. It is actually an important part of developing an immune system and should not be too alarming, but there are effective ways to minimize the spread of illness. The best way to prevent your child from getting sick is to promote a healthy lifestyle with a bit of extra attention on germs in the winter. One main defense against illness is rest, so make sure that everyone in your family gets plenty of sleep. Even if you keep your child extremely healthy, if other people in your household are under a lot of stress or not getting enough sleep (yes parents, that’s you) they can bring germs into the house. Use winter as a time to slow down.
Being prepared is also a big part of staying healthy. Having tissues and baby wipes on hand, regular baths and extra hand-washing can keep germs at bay. Also, avoiding water fountains and carrying your own pen means you don’t expose yourself to other people’s germs when you are out running errands. We recommend stocking your diaper bag for winter with extra supplies, a change of clean clothes, a pen and a water bottle. In the event that someone does get sick, preparing your house with items to keep them comfortable is also important. Decide with your pediatrician what medicine to use if your child has a fever, and what other treatments he or she recommends in case of discomfort. I found the line of products called Little Remedies to be very helpful with early colds and stuffy noses, and an easy-to-clean humidifier can be key for nighttime sleeping. Petite Vigogne sleepsacks are a great way to keep your baby warm during the night.
This last piece of advice applies not only to illness, but to parenting in general. Listen to your child and respond to his or her needs. If the fever is down but your child still seems tired, continue to get a bit more rest. If your child has a runny nose and cough but still has the energy to run all around the house, get outside for a walk and some fresh air. Every child is different, and as you get to know yours, you will recognize patterns. Soon this season will pass and you will have more knowledge and perhaps a story or two to share with other parents at the playground.