12 advice on how to prevent seasonal illnesses
Autumn is here bringing colds, coughs, high temperatures and flu. But how can we prevent these seasonal illnesses getting to our little ones?
When autumn arrives, it is much easier for children to fall ill because the temperature, which is still not too cold but definitely colder than in the summer months, means that we all spend more time indoors, in closed environments which are warmer but also more humid, providing the perfect conditions for catching coughs and colds.
In addition, temperature changes are much more frequent (sun, wind, rain and sudden changes of the temperature) make the body more vulnerable to seasonal illnesses, especially when it comes to children.
There is no definitive solution to avoiding the flu, but you only need a few tips to reduce the chances of catching these annoying autumnal illnesses.
Some tips for prevention
Below we have a list 12 pieces of advice, all of which are really just common sense, to try and reduce the risk of your little ones becoming ill, but of course, they are also good for adults too.
1. Make sure you wash your hands regularly
It is a good idea to wash your hands regularly and this is not true just for the little ones but also for parents. This will help to stop germs from spreading as hands are the main way bacteria is spread.
2. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
Remember to teach your children to cover their mouths and noses when they are sneezing or coughing, with their hands - or even better with their forearm - or with a tissue. It may seem silly, but other than being a good manners, it is also a good preventative measure!
If you watch what happens in slow-motion every time someone sneezes or coughs, you can immediately understand how much potential bacteria is released into the air.
3. Make sure you air the rooms
It is also very important to remember to air the house and even more in general the places where you and your children spend time by occasionally opening the windows to air the room, especially now before the temperature gets too cold.
But what can we do when winter arrives? Always try to make sure that you change the air even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Remember that it is not cold that makes people ill but the so-called stale air.
4. Dress your little ones in layers
Dressing your little ones in layers can be very useful in the mid-season. By doing this their outfit will help them adjust their body-temperatureon the time of the day, and to the internal and external temperatures.
Children are usually quite autonomous in regulating themselves, the important thing is that they don’t get too cold when they are sweating. This is why it is always good to take a change of clothes with you rather than making them wear too many clothes which would just have the opposite effect.
5. Avoid sudden temperature changes
Try not to overheat the house: by doing this you will avoid the sudden changes of temperature when your little ones will go outside.
6. Watch what they eat
Let’s not forget that a fundamental ally for the immune system of your little ones, is their nutrition. So bring on the yoghurts, rich in pro-biotics, juices and smoothies, good amounts of vegetables and fruit to integrate all the necessary vitamins during this period.
Vitamin C is a good ally against seasonal illnesses, so try and make sure your little ones get plenty of it from kiwis, strawberries, litchi, oranges, lemons, broccolis, brussels sprouts.
7. Let them stay out in the open air and let them do sport
If temperatures are still mild during the day, let the children play out in the open air and let them do physical activity. Remember to dress them in a suitable way for the activity that they are doing and only cover them at the end of it and not whilst they are moving, to prevent them from sweating too much.
Make sure you dry their hair properly and change their t-shirt at the end of the training or of the outdoor activity so that they don’t go out in the cold wearing damp clothes or while their hair is still wet.
8. Throw away used tissues
One important piece of advice: at the first symptoms of a cold, if you’re using paper tissues, remember to throw them away as soon as you’ve used them and don’t leave them in bags, backpacks, rooms or pockets, because they are receptacles for germs.
If you use handkerchiefs, don’t use them too many times, but try and wash them as soon as possible, at a really high temperature to kill any germs present.
9. Sleeping the right amount of time is important
Children need to sleep the right amount of time, also to avoid seasonal illnesses. Tiredness is one of the causes that leads to the lowering of the immune system.
So always try and make your little ones sleep the right number of hours (9 or 10 hours at least, depending on your children needs and age). If they sleep well, it will be easier for them to fight off the coughs and colds of the season.
10. Don’t spread it
If your little ones are ill, don’t rush to send them back to school! Only take send them back when they are completely better, otherwise you just be helping to spread the viruses and germs, with the risk of making other children ill.
11. If the house is too dry
If the air is too dry at home it is not ideal and it really doesn’t help if a child has a dry cough.
So try, to regulate the humidity. The easiest way is to use some water containers or place some wet towels on top of the radiators.
12. Don’t be afraid of the cold
It is not cold or wind that makes children ill but it is spending long periods of time in closed spaces that do not have enough ventilation or which are excessively warm. So, as we said before, don’t be afraid to let your little ones stay out in the open air on cold days, just make sure they are wearing the right sort of clothes.
However, we must not forget that your children’s immune system is still developing, so it is normal that your little ones might get ill when they come into contact with a virus or a germ that they still haven’t met.
So, don’t worry if your children often come down with a cold or a cough, especially if it is during the first years of daycare or kindergarten.
As they grow and develop, so will their immune system and they will learn to naturally defend themselves from some of these annoying illnesses!