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Germs begone: How to keep kids healthy all winter long

When your kids are sick, it’s no fun for anyone. So eliminate germs and keep colds and flus at bay with the help of these simple tips.

Little boy washing his soapy hands
Staying healthy through the winter isn’t easy, especially for kids, who encounter an infinite number of germs during their time at school. But with a few simple changes, you can keep your little ones healthy all season long. Marijke Durning has been a registered nurse for nearly 30 years, so she certainly knows a thing or two about preventing the spread of germs. She shares her tips for keeping kids healthy and virus-free this year.

Proper handwashing

We all know washing our hands is an important part of chasing away germs, but even if your kids know they should wash their hands, they may not know how to do so properly. Marijke recommends showing children how to spread their fingers and to move their hands into each other, interlacing their fingers and rubbing up and down. Encourage them to remember the tips of their fingers and thumbs. A quick handwashing won’t reach these important areas, so make sure they get soap in all the nooks and crannies. Marijke also encourages parents to get kids in the habit of washing their hands as soon as they come home, after using the bathroom, before eating or drinking anything and after sneezing, coughing or being in contact with someone who is. By getting them used to washing their hands regularly, you can ensure that germs are eliminated as quickly as possible.

Proper nutrition and hydration

An important health tip for individuals of all ages is to eat well and stay hydrated. Marijke explains that when a person is dehydrated, the mucous membranes can develop cracks, which makes it easier for viruses to get in. So make sure your children drink plenty of fluids — especially water. She also encourages parents to ensure children get their proper intake of vitamins from fruits and vegetables. If your little ones are opposed to certain vegetables, Marijke suggests searching for recipes that hide veggies in a yummier form. Kids will never guess all the nutrients they’re getting from this creamy carrot soup or these mashed “potatoes” and peas.

Toothbrushes and toothpastes

Marijke has learned from personal experience about the benefits of each member of the house having his or her own tube of toothpaste. The year she implemented the rule of no sharing toothpastes, her family’s cold-sharing ratio dropped drastically. She also recommends buying a new toothbrush and throwing out your child’s old one after he or she has been ill.

Avoid face touching

Does your child love touching her face? Don’t worry; even adults have a tendency to touch their noses, mouths and faces. But Marijke explains that this is a very bad habit when it comes to spreading germs. So whenever possible, distract your little one when you see her touching her face, because she isn’t doing it on purpose.

Water bottle precautions

Kids love to share things. And if they’re thirsty at school and don’t have their own water bottle, they’re likely to use someone else’s. So to decrease the chances of your child picking up germs from a friend’s bottle or the water fountain, Marijke recommends getting your little one her own water bottle she can keep to herself.

Get them to bed

Kids can put up a fight when bedtime comes around, but Marijke explains that, because sleep nourishes and refreshes the body, it’s crucial for children to get their rest. She elaborates: “Tired people seem to get sick more easily, so unless it’s a special occasion, enforce those bedtimes.”

Want More?

To get more tips from Marijke, check out her professional website and her blog so you can keep the whole family healthy all season long!

More on children’s health

Healthy eating habits to pass on to the kids
Natural ways to boost your child’s immune system
5 Kid-friendly foods to help avoid cold and flu this season

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