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6 Ways not to catch your kid's cold

Julie Sprankles is a freelance writer living in the storied city of Charleston, SC. When she isn't slinging sass for SheKnows, she enjoys watching campy SyFy creature features (Pirahnaconda, anyone?), trolling the internet for dance work...

Following a few simple precautions could keep you from catching your kid's cold this germ-filled season

When it comes to caring for your sick child, you'd move mountains to make her feel better again. And, as a mother, you know this inevitably ups your odds of catching the germs currently holding your little one hostage. However, there are things you can do to minimize the chance you'll catch a cold from your child this season.

Because, let's be honest: do moms ever really get sick days? Being down and out with a cold keeps us from operating at our typical supermom status, so it's only natural we want to avoid it like the plague (pardon the pun).

Keep on truckin' this cold and flu season while caring for your ailing loved ones by following these tried-and-true suggestions.

1. Wash your hands — often

When it comes to spreading germs, hands are perhaps the most common culprit. Touching, holding hands, hugging, kissing... any and all of these normally innocuous actions can cause you to catch a cold if your child is harboring germs. Even indirect contact from unwashed hands, such as picking up a toy your child has been playing with, can pass on the cold virus. It's no wonder, then, that health professionals routinely stress the importance of washing your hands (and reinforcing the importance of doing so to your child). The CDC recommends singing through the "Happy Birthday" song twice to reach the suggested 20 seconds of hand-washing.

2. Get plenty of sleep

While this recommendation certainly qualifies as something most moms wish they were doing already, avoiding your kid's cold is yet another reason to add it to your to-do list — people who sleep less than seven hours a night have three times the chance of catching a cold than those who get eight or more hours of shut-eye, according to Dr. Sharon Bergquist, internal medicine specialist at Emory University School of Medicine. As a good rule of thumb, shoot for at least seven hours of sleep to keep your immune system operating optimally. Eight or more? Even better.

3. Be selective about sharing

Typically, mothers love to advocate sharing, and rightly so. However, doing so when cold germs are milling about your home can mean the difference between tending to your sick kids with a clean bill of health and struggling to keep them content through your own fits of coughing and sneezing. If you wash your hands frequently, you'll cut down on the risk of passing germs through objects such as toys and books, but hand-washing won't help you avoid germs hiding in towels and on utensils. Err on the side of caution and be stingy at the first sign your kid is coming down with a cold.

4. Disinfect with a vengeance

No matter how careful you feel you're being to prevent the spreading sickness through sharing and other contact, some germs will inevitably slip through the cracks. To lower the chances a wayward germ will pass your child's illness onto you, disinfect your environment. Thanks to portable and easy-to-use products like disinfecting wipes, you can rid commonly touched surfaces of germs — think doorknobs, sink handles and cabinet pulls — quickly and effectively.

5. Follow a healthy, balanced diet

Like sleep, a healthy and balanced diet helps your body fight off cold germs from the inside out by strengthening your immune system. Eating foods high in Vitamin C, such as orange and red bell peppers, will give your immunity a boost. So will snacking on yogurt that contains active cultures — probiotics are your friend! And, although we typically hear "drink plenty of fluids" as part of a recovery regimen, consuming at least 64 ounces of water a day will keep your immune system functioning properly and minimize the likelihood you'll catch a cold in the first place.

6. Don't get complacent

Did you realize your child could be contagious for two to three days before they even exhibit any cold symptoms? And, what's more, that they could remain contagious for up to two weeks after they become symptomatic? So stay vigilant, Mama. Just because your little one isn't coughing, sniffling or sneezing at the moment (or there is a lull in the cold chaos) doesn't mean you're in the clear. Continue to practice the aforementioned precautions throughout cold and flu season.

This post was brought to you by Clorox. Use their new online tool, Cold and Flu Pulse, to see if cold and flu conversations are going viral so you can take steps to help prevent it in the real world.

More on cold and flu season

Tips to keep your kids safe and healthy during flu season (VIDEO)
The common cold vs. the flu: What's the difference
Eat these foods for better immunity during flu season

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