Winter can be a magical time, but it can also be a nightmare if you’re the parent of a toddler! As their immune systems aren’t as strong as an adult’s, toddlers are a lot more prone to pick up airborne infections. This means if there’s a cold or flu virus going around, you can guarantee your little one is going to pick it up and spread it to the rest of the family.
Now, it’s practically impossible to stop your toddler getting sick at least once during the winter. Even if you manage to stop them getting within 4-6 feet of somebody who is sneezing, coughing or sniffling, the actual infection often starts before symptoms show. So, at any time your toddler could be exposed to an infection without you even realizing it.
However, this isn’t to say you can’t take precautionary measures and limit the amount your toddler is sick this winter. Below, you’ll discover 10 ways to keep your little one as healthy as possible as the colder, germ-prone months set in.
1. Encourage Strict Handwashing Rules
This is by far the simplest, yet most important tip to help your toddler stay healthy this winter. Washing their hands regularly is important due to how much toddler’s use their hands. You’ll often witness them sticking their hands in their mouths, and if they’ve been in contact with cold and flu germs, they’re guaranteed to get sick.
So, encourage hand washing before meals and snacks, after going to the toilet and after playtime and daycare. Warm soapy water tends to work best. The FDA is actually trying to reduce the amount of antibacterial based ingredients within hand wash, claiming it can do more harm than good.
Don’t forget about your own hygiene too. You’ll need to wash your own hands each time you change a diaper or wipe your toddler’s runny nose. You’ll also want to wash prior to preparing food and after going to the toilet. The same rules should apply to all of your toddler’s caregivers, too.
2. Consider Vaccinations
Of course, not all parents are a fan of vaccinations. If you’re not keen to have your toddler vaccinated, then there are other preventative measures you can take. You’ll need to speak to a doctor to see what they recommend.
If you’re not opposed to vaccinations, they can really help to protect your little one against certain types of bacteria and viruses. Again, it’s best to talk to your doctor as they’ll be able to tell you everything you need to know to help you make the right decision for you and your child.
3. Look Over Your Toddler’s Daycare Sick Child Policy
It’s easy to ensure your toddler is healthy at home, but what about when you pack them off to daycare? You’ll want to have a look at your toddler’s daycare sick child policy to ensure it’s adequate.
How does the daycare ensure sick children are kept away from healthy ones for example? Usually, day care centers ask parents to keep children home if they have a cold, flu, fever or diarrhea. However, if you regularly see sick children at the center, it’s worth chatting to the caregivers to try and get the sickness policy altered. If they refuse, it could be time to look for a new daycare center.
4. Teach Your Toddler To Avoid Touching Their Nose And Eyes
This is definitely one of the hardest tips on the list. It can be pretty tough to stop your toddler touching anything and everything; especially their own face! However, if your little one does have germs on their hands, if they touch their nose and eyes, those germs will inevitably end up within their mucous membranes. From there, the germs will quickly enter the bloodstream.
If you can teach them not to touch their nose and eyes, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of them getting sick. One way to do it is to teach them to use a tissue, rather than their hands. This can also extend to teaching them to use a tissue when they sneeze or cough.
It’s going to take a lot of perseverance to teach your toddler not to touch their nose and eyes with their hands. However, eventually they will start to remember, and it will help to reduce the risk of not only them getting sick, but from passing it on if they do have a cold.
5. Continue Breastfeeding If You Can
There’s a lot of benefits that come from breastfeeding throughout the toddler years. While you’ll also want to provide a healthy solid food diet, a little breastmilk can work wonders to fight off infections.
Just like when they were a baby, your toddler’s immune system can be really strengthened through breastmilk. It still contains all of the nutrients and protection it did when they were an infant. So, continue breastfeeding or at least expressing milk and feeding with a bottle.
6. Use Saline Nose Drops
The above have largely focused on preventing a cold. However, as mentioned earlier, it’s often impossible to stop a toddler getting sick at all during the winter. The good news is, there are things you can do to clear up a bug quickly, and saline nose drops is just one thing you can try.
Your toddler isn’t likely to enjoy this process, but it can be very effective. It’s best to apply the saline drops via a bulb syringe. Simply tilt your toddler’s head back a little, then squeeze a few drops of the saline into the nose. You can use the syringe to then remove any mucus. Of course, your toddler may not let you do this and it’s important not to force them to have it done. However, if they don’t kick up too much of a fuss, saline nose drops can work wonders for relieving congestion and clearing mucus from the airway.
7. Ensure They Eat A Nutritious Diet
Along with breastfeeding, making sure your toddler eats a nutritious diet will also help to reduce the risk of viruses. You’ll want to focus on foods which contain a lot of selenium, zinc and Vitamins C and E. These are especially great at promoting a healthy, well-functioning immune system.
The best way to ensure they’re getting these all-important vitamins and minerals is to provide lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
8. Ensure They’re Sleeping Enough
You likely know yourself what too little sleep can do to your immune system. The same applies for toddlers. If their sleeping pattern is all over the place, you’ll want to start taking steps to get them into a good routine.
If they don’t get plenty of sleep, they’re going to easily get run down and be a lot more prone to illness.
9. Invest In A Humidifier
If your toddler does get a cold, they’re going to find it worse during the night and while taking naps. A humidifier can really help to ensure your toddler can breathe properly and get off to sleep easier.
The air provided by the humidifier is moist and that helps to really thin the mucus. This, in turn, relieves congestion and helps your little one get off to sleep.
10. Always Seek Advice From A Doctor
All of the tips featured above will help to minimize the risk of your toddler getting sick this winter, as well as help to clear up any viruses they may develop. However, it’s still important to seek advice from a doctor.
While most viruses will clear up on their own, it’s still better to be safe than sorry. You’ll especially want to call the doctor if your toddler has a high fever, is suffering from pain in the face or ears, is wheezing or is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting.
The above tips are useful to follow, but remember nothing can 100% prevent a toddler from getting sick. Winter does sadly expose us to a lot more germs and as most people already have a virus before they show any symptoms, keeping your toddler away from someone who is sick isn’t a guarantee they won’t get ill.