As a mum, you want to do everything possible to keep your children happy, healthy and free from both the cold and flu. As your children grow and start to interact with the outside world, one of the biggest concerns for mums is the germs that children will come into contact with at nursery or at school.
Whether your child is three months, three years or just starting school, here are some tips on cold prevention!
It’s a good idea to wash your hands with warm water and soap before picking up your baby, especially if they are very young. You should also make sure anyone else who looks after your baby knows to wash their hands regularly too - it’s one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective ways to help protect from the cold and flu virus. It can be a little fiddly at first, but once your baby is a bit older and has started crawling you should wash their hands with soap and water too so that any germs which may have picked up on those little hands won’t be transferred to their mouth, nose or eyes.
The cold and flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours so I pay lots of attention to those high-traffic areas where germs can linger. Try using a multi-purpose antibacterial spray, such as Dettol - when used as directed, it is able to kill 99.9% of germs.
Babies’ immune systems are weaker than adults so it is important to avoid close contact with any friends, family members or other babies who have been suffering from cold or flu. If this is unavoidable, it’s even more important to practice good hand hygiene, washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
When you cough or sneeze into your hands, it is easy to pass on germs to doorknobs, desks, chairs or toys. Teach your toddler to sneeze into the crook of their arm. This can help reduce the spread of germs, such as cold and flu. Gentle reminders not to touch their mouth, nose or eyes with dirty hands will also go a long in helping to prevent the spread of any cold and flu viruses which may have picked on their hands.
Handwashing is very effective at helping to prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses, so it’s important to lead by example. Show your toddler how to wash their hands properly with warm water and soap from a young age and make sure that their nursery does the same. Hand washing should be done regularly throughout the day and especially before eating, after going to the toilet and after group playtime.
Soft toys can harbour germs and bacteria. Choosing toys that you can machine wash, will be easier to keep hygienically clean. You could also add a laundry cleanser to your wash - when used as directed it kills 99.9% of bacteria. Hard toys are a bit easier to clean, just make sure you wipe them down regularly.
By the time your children are school age they should know their handwashing routine, but a gentle reminder is always a good idea. It is just as important for children to remember to wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap at school, as it is at home.
If you child is very unwell, it might be best to keep them off school until they are feeling better. Germs and illness spread quickly from one person to another when they are at school so this could help prevent the spread of cold and flu to other children. Equally, if you notice that any of your child’s friends are unwell you might decide to save play dates or sleepovers for another day.
To help prevent bringing germs from the outside back into your home, ask your child to take off their shoes, and wash their hands with warm water and soap as soon as they get home from school.
While you can’t completely shield your kids from catching a cold or the flu, especially if they attend nursery or school, teaching them proper cold prevention habits and following some of the advice above can help to decrease their chances of becoming unwell.