Whether you’re single or married, keeping kids healthy in winter is always a challenge.
It’s safe to say that winter is here, and for parents, that means lots of snotty noses and grizzly little ones! Luckily there are a few things you can do to help lower your kid’s chance of getting a cold, or better yet, preventing them from catching winter flu, covid and colds.
Mask wearing is of course especially advisable this winter, but there’s even more you can do to keep your children healthy this winter. From vitamins to natural immunity, we’ll take a look at how you can banish those winter germs and keep your kids healthy and your little ones fighting fit.
Sharing these tips with your co-parent can be a great conversation opener if you find yourself at an impasse over how to handle your child’s winter wellness. A little calm conversation can of course go a long way to having a smoother, healthier winter season!
Stay tuned as we explore the best ways to help keep your children healthy this winter in 10 easy steps…(And, share this list with your ex so your family is all on the same page to the greatest extent possible!)
1. Practice good hygiene.
Kids are famously known for being sticky, messy and always in need of a wipe. In winter, we know this can extend to snotty noses and sleeves, so it might be good to instil the idea of good hygiene in your kids.
Regularly washing our hands after being outside or touching something new is a great way to reduce the spread of germs and virus molecules all year round, but especially in winter. This is because the germ droplets can spread and move around easier due to the moist, cool air, which is why colds and flu are more apparent in the cooler months.
So, keep a wipe at the ready to help on the go and ask your kids to wash their hands well when you get home. If your ex is not inclined to keep wipes on-hand, consider purchasing a box for their easy access.
2. Don’t forget to moisturize.
All that washing and cleaning can cause the skin to dry out. Combined with the cold, brisk weather, it might result in chapped lips, dry skin patches and aggravated eczema.
So, as well as getting your kids to stay clean, why not get them into the habit of moisturizing their skin after every wash? And ask them to use some protective lip balm too. If your child is moving between your home and ex’s be sure to send a spare bottle of moisturizer to the other parent’s home!
You could go one step further by choosing a moisturizer and balm that contain SPF to protect them from winter sun damage (it’s a thing!).
3. Cough or sneeze the right way.
Coughing and sneezing etiquette is important to protect those around you, and it’s polite too. If you do a big sneeze out in the open, any germy bacteria you’re carrying will have the power to travel far further than if you were to sneeze into a tissue.
So, what can you ask your kids to do when they need to sneeze or cough?
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue
- Be like Dracula and use the cook of the elbow and an imaginary cape to catch it.
- Wipe with a tissue, not a sleeve, hand, or glove.
- Throw any tissues away.
4.Dress them up warm.
Running around outside is bound to make your little ones a bit sweaty, but that doesn’t mean you should let them run around in their summer clothes. Coats, gloves, scarves, boots, and hats protect their extremities and keep their core temperatures at a safe level.
Little kids don’t have the same cold tolerance that adults do, so always give them an extra layer to wear to be safe. Go for loose-fitting and tightly woven clothes too – they trap in the warmth better than loose knits and tight-fitting clothes. This may seem obvious but if you and your ex are arguing over winter clothes, again do your best to keep calm and allow whatever clothing you keep at your house to travel between your children’s two homes.
5. Let them go outside.
You might be tempted to keep your children inside away from the cold and the wet, but that’s not exactly the right thing to do. There are benefits to being outside in nature, not least because they’ll be exposed to winter sunshine that will help their bodies create valuable Vitamin D for stronger bones and better moods.
6. Let them play – safely.
Playing in winter offers new environments like snow and frost and ice – it’s exciting, but it can be dangerous too. There’s an increased likelihood of skidding and falling and all manner of new ways for them to get hurt, so here are some golden rules for winter play:
- Keep them in your eye line – ask them to play where you can see them so you can be ready in case of mischief.
- Make sure they know the safest way to sled and that they’re supervised.
- Keep their playtime away from water and icy areas.
- Stay away from the roads and any potentially sliding cars.
One safe place you can take them is the local playground. Often, they’re made using materials that are designed for safety and play in all weather conditions.
7. Keep your home ventilated with fresh air.
Kids don’t catch colds and illnesses from the cold weather, they catch them via water particles and bacteria. Ergo, if you keep a child inside and you have a visitor with a cold, they could still pass it on.
It’s a good idea to let your house breathe and ventilate the stale air inside for at least 10 minutes a day to flush out these molecules and keep the air (and any germs) flowing.
8. Minimize external germs with water bottles.
If your youngster is heading to school or a friend’s house, then send them along with a reusable water bottle. As well as being kind to the environment, this gives them a safe drinking receptacle to use all on their own that will help prevent the spread of germs from them, and to them.
9. Boost their immunity with vitamins and flu vaccinations.
Kids are constantly growing, and their bodies work harder than adults do to support all their functions and growth, so it doesn’t hurt to give them a helping hand, does it?
Healthy vitamin supplements are a great way to ensure your kids are absorbing all the necessary bits and bobs they need to support their growth and development. And ensuring their levels are topped up means their bodies are better prepared to fight any illness.
You can also get them a safe child flu vaccination if you’re concerned. These are usually administered by a nasal spray or an injection and help reduce the chance of any complications and additional risks that children face when they get the flu.
10. Check the weather forecast.
Finally, if you want to keep your child healthy this winter, check the weather forecast. It’s the easiest way to prepare and make sure you have all the clothes, moisturizers, wipes and more that they will need ready to go outside.
Winter can be a really fun time of year for kids, but it’s also a worrisome one for parents. So, (as the animated lion says) be prepared and give your child all the tools they need to stay healthy and happy throughout the colder season. And, most importantly, stay on the same page with your ex as much as possible so that your children are receiving consistent messages about keeping safe and having fun in winter.
DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.