The sniffles, fevers and coughs that come with cold and flu season are never fun for parents and children alike. Typically these symptoms start making regular appearances in late fall and the season itself can last into March. The good news is that there are simple things you and your family can do to protect yourselves against unwanted germs.
The following cold-and-flu-dodging strategies work well for all ages – from toddlers to grandparents and everyone between!
- Brush up on hand-washing. Good old-fashioned hand-washing can make all the difference. It effectively limits the spread of illness and viruses, especially during the season when noses are running, coughs are common, and there are generally more germs around. Practice and encourage your little one to wash his hands regularly, like before and after meals, after using the restroom, and after playing outside! Remember to teach your family these hand-washing tips:
- Use soap with warm, running water
- Rub hands together vigorously
- Be sure to wash all surfaces, including wrists, under fingernails, and the back of your hands
- Rinse well and dry hands
- Cover coughs correctly. Teaching your child to cover her cough is great, but go one step further and make sure she doesn’t use her hands. Together, spend time practicing to cover coughs with your arms – a habit that will help keep germs off her hands and prevent them from spreading to others!
- Limit contact. Especially during cold and flu season, try to limit your family’s exposure to people who have flu-like symptoms. This can be easier said than done since the flu can often look like the common cold, but try to avoid close contact whenever possible. Also, make sure family members stay home from work, school or child care when they’re sick.
- Get the vaccine. Flu is not something to be taken lightly, and the flu vaccine continues to be the best available preventive measure for protecting against it. That’s why the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics are for everyone 6 months and older to get their annual flu shot as soon as it becomes available.
For more information about the flu and current flu vaccine recommendations, see the American Academy of Pediatrics’ HealthyChildren website and/or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Flu.gov and Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine.