With the typical winter illnesses spreading around, including more serious strains of the flu, parents can become concerned about keeping their children healthy while attending child care programs. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do as a parent to help make sure you child stays in good health even when you people are getting sick. It's of course not a guarantee that a child can't ever catch a cold, but some healthy habits help to boost the immune system and prevent the spread of disease.
1. Teach hand washing at home.
Children may not know the importance of washing their hands. Germs spread quickly in a play-based care center with shared toys and bathrooms. Talk about hand washing at home and show your child how to wash hands properly with soap. Explain about cleaning around the fingernails and about carefully drying your hands with a clean towel instead of wiping them on your clothing. Children should know to wash hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after task completion, like moving from playing with toys to reading books.
2. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep.
Sleep is essential for children's health. Lack of sleep leads to decreased immune function. Your child should have an early bed time, especially if they no longer nap while in child care. For toddlers and grade-school children, you should aim to meet the need 11 hours of sleep per day. If your child is an early riser, adapt your own schedule to put them to bed earlier, and try to encourage rest during the day if possible.
To make sleep easier, you can limit screen time before bed. You can also try to reduce sugary foods that cause stimulation. Children should not, for example, drink caffeinated soda that would cause artificial wakefulness. Have a daily routine that helps your child calm down before bed. Read books, take a warm bath, and sing songs to help your child prepare for sleep.
3. Choose healthful foods.
Children who have more nutritious food may get sick less frequently. Try to encourage fruits and vegetables as part of the daily diet, and opt for whole grains over refined and processed ones. For example, instead of eating sugary cereal for breakfast, serve a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries mixed in. These foods support a strong immune system that makes it easier for your child to fight off illness when they occur.
For more information, contact establishments like Kaye Kare Child Care Center.