Kids are back to school, the weather is changing… That means that it’s the season to get sick! Everyone is going to start exchanging germs, from teachers to toddlers. Here are my best tips to keep your whole house well by eliminating or minimizing illness.
Wash Hands Often
“Rub and scrub”… That is like a sacred mantra around our house. I make a point to have my child wash his own hands multiple times throughout the day (with help, of course). Hand sanitizer does not work as well, and did you hear that the FDA recently issued a massive recall on antibacterial soap? Good old-fashioned soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, is the tried and true best method. Hum a tune like “row row row your boat” – the length of the song is the perfect amount of time.
Make Sure They Stay Rested
Kids need a consistent routine, and lots of sleep. This is especially true when they’re ambushed by germs at every turn. Keep them true to a steady sleep schedule, and it’ll help their body keep fighting!
Stay Hydrated and Eat Well
When you feel the walls closing in on your kid’s health, and you keep hearing everyone and their mom (literally) is coming down with one cold or another, fight back at home with more preventative measures. Kids should always have a decent amount of water, and limit sugary stuff. They need a balance of protein, fiber, vitamins and carbs just like you do! We give a daily multivitamin too, to help supplement those off days when Kiddo eats mac and cheese for three meals straight.
If They Do Get Sick…
Fever Free for 24 Hours
Like I mentioned in my article about play etiquette, your child should be kept at home until they have been without a fever for 24 hours. A true fever clocks in at 100.4°F. This means that without the aid of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin), your child is considered contagious and is clearly fighting something. This rule is pretty standard for daycare, preschool, and public school.
If you’ve got a newborn or a small baby, it’s best to take temp rectally. It’s the most consistent way. (The rectal thermometer is the Vicks one in the middle of the photo above). Once your child’s ears are a bit bigger and you can properly insert a thermometer, you can take their temp that way. (The Graco on the left and the Kinsa on the right are two other options in that same photo).
If you’re still breastfeeding (even if the sick child has weaned), give them some breastmilk. That stuff is amazing, with over 200 ingredients like sugars to combat disease in the intestines and immune-boosting agents. If the ill child is still breastfeeding, try to nurse them as often as possible; there is a vacuum process which happens when they latch on, and the mother’s body literally can analyze the child’s saliva to custom-make milk to suit their needs. In the case of a sick baby, this is especially helpful!
Babies and young children can’t blow their own nose, and they can sometimes get panicky if they’re congested (newborns in particular don’t realize that they can breathe through their mouth). So check them often. You use a nasal saline to help break up mucus, and then suction it out after a minute or two. You can use something like a bulb syringe, but I much prefer the Nose Frida (see my full review here).
Active probiotics aren’t really a bad idea any time, but particularly if your child has started a round of antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill off good as well as bad bacteria, and a probiotic restores the good bacteria, particularly in the gut. Check with your pediatrician to see what they recommend; we use Florastor and just mix it into a drink.
Other Get Well Remedies
Rest and hydration how what will help your child recuperate. Keep them at home with activities that do not get them wild up – that means no pillow fights, and no racing around in the backyard. Offer lots of clear or transparent liquids throughout the day, from water to lemonade to chicken broth. And be sure that they do not get chilled – even if they have a fever, their feet could be ice cold. Keep them in at least one light layer of clothing.
After They’re Recovered
Thank goodness that your child is feeling better! I know it is exhausting to take care of an ill child. But, to make sure that they do not get sick again, there are a few things you need to do once they have recuperated.
Go through The house and do a deep cleaning. This means washing all of their towels and sheets; disinfecting doorknobs, including the handles of the fridge; any toys which would have been put in their mouth, including instruments; cleaning all of their dishes and cups; and replacing their toothbrush. Think about any item in the home which could potentially still have their germs on it. Failure to eradicate all of the germs may mean that your child gets sick again in a few weeks.
I hope that this gave you a few suggestions on how to minimize sickness in your home this season! Please let me know in the comments below if you have any other ideas!