By Brittany Wright
Many children have already gone back to school and there are lots of exciting transitions happening. Change is always good but the weather changing, in conjunction with being introduced to new germs can spell disaster for your child’s immune system.
Most parents know that when your child is sick it’s only a matter of time before you and the rest of the house get it too. I know I don’t only speak for myself when I say, with 75 percent of the year already behind us sick days are getting scarce so, ain’t nobody got time for that!
Although the common cold might catch up with your child eventually there are a few things you can do to keep the spread of those back-to-school germs to a minimum.
1. Front door decontamination
While at daycare or school, and during after-school activities, your children come into contact with many different people and their germs. A good way to keep those germs as close to the outside world as possible is to do some decontaminating as soon as your kids enter your home.
The simplest thing you can do is have them remove their shoes and wash their hands before eating or lounging around the house.
Changing into clean house clothes or even pajamas right away can also slow the spread of germs left on uniforms or school clothes that have been worn and played in all day. I would also suggest implementing a schedule for keeping backpacks, lunch bags and smart devices clean. All types of germs can live inside of these bags and on these surfaces, so it’s best to clean them regularly. Try Lysol or a full wash of the bags weekly. A daily wipe-down of cell phones and tablets can also be beneficial to keep away cold-causing germs.
2. Daily multivitamins
Multivitamins are a great way to make sure your child gets all of the nutrients they might miss during the day but they also can help support a healthy immune system. Taking a multivitamin every morning became a part of my morning routine with my daughter when she started daycare and so far the coughs and sniffles have been kept at bay.
For younger children, you might have an easier time with liquid multivitamins. Zarabee’s makes a few natural vitamin supplements for babies and toddlers. For older children, I would suggest gummy or chewable vitamins. These are sold in a variety of flavors at pretty much every major retailer.
Check with your pediatrician before starting anything but for the most part, these over-the-counter supplements can do wonders for your child’s overall health and wellness. I also love the fact that they help my notoriously picky eater get all of the nutrients she may miss from her strict diet.
3. Healthy before and after- school snacks
Even if you give your child a vitamin each day, you should still try to make sure they are getting as much nutrition as possible from their meals. This can be a challenge since kids, especially toddlers, are notoriously picky eaters.
Luckily there are a lot of healthy before- and after- school snacks that boost the immune system. If you can’t get your child to eat things like kale or mushrooms, you can always keep things simple by offering them oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast.
These foods are rich in probiotics and antioxidant qualities that fight against the flu. If those options don’t work, most children love apples and oranges. Easy to prepare and even pack with lunch, apples and oranges are full of fiber and vitamins that help your child’s overall health daily.
4. Setting a bedtime
Children really thrive with a consistent routine in their daily lives. Adding a designated nap time and a set bedtime can also do wonders for your child’s health. Making sure they get a good night’s rest will ensure that their bodies have enough energy to fight off germs they may come into contact with so these germs won’t progress into colds.
Setting a bedtime for your kids can also do wonders for parents. The time in between your child’s bedtime and your own can be a really great opportunity to decompress from the day, do some last-minute cleaning, and just be unbothered!
5. Getting a flu shot
With back-to-school season also comes the flu season, the contagious virus that can be very dangerous for children. The CDC recommends that children over the age of 6 months get vaccinated every year. This can be very important to children who are in daycare, preschool or grade school as they are exposed to many different germs from their classmates, teachers and other parents.
I know from my own experiences and research online that many Black people simply do not trust the flu shot and avoid it each year. I myself have only been vaccinated while pregnant but I generally do not go out for a flu shot each year. Now that I have a young child in daycare I plan to vaccinate her. The benefits of avoiding the dangerous sickness far outweigh whatever social stigma or paranoia I’m currently operating under.
The flu shot doesn’t protect your child against the common cold but it will help fight off the sickness that could leave them feeling crummy for weeks.
We parents are facing an uphill battle as far as germs go this fall, but at least we know that there are some things we can do to arm ourselves. Our main goal should be being proactive about preventing the colds, and if we cannot avoid them, at least be proactive about treating them while stopping the spread to other people. Good luck out there, parents! Godspeed!