It’s that time of year when it seems nearly impossible to steer our families clear from aches, pains and sniffles, especially when we’re often surrounded by people coughing, sneezing and wiping runny noses. Following these tips for good health will help to give you and your family a fighting chance against pesky bugs and the seasonal flu this winter.


Help Your Family Fight Flu Season

  • It’s not too late – get vaccinated. According to the Center of Disease Control, the flu season in the United States typically peaks in January and can last as late as May. Since it takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccination for antibodies to develop in your body and start protecting against the virus, do not delay. Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s the single best way to stay healthy.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Don’t let recent studies about the effectiveness and possible dangers of antibacterial soap turn your family lax on washing hands. Stick with soap and water or an all-natural sanitizer, such as the ones by Clean Well which use thyme rather than harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals. Germs are spread by droplets from infected people when they sneeze, blow their nose, or wipe their nose or eyes. Remind your kids to keep their hands out of their mouths and avoid rubbing their eyes, in addition to washing their hands thoroughly several times a day. Also, remember to clean your baby’s hands often.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Going about your normal business while you are sick is a double whammy. You’re expending energy your body could be using to fight infection. In addition, being out in the world spreads infection to others. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and stay home for a little TLC. The same goes for your kids. Keep them home from school and daycare when they’re under the weather.
  • Don’t skimp on sleep. It’s often the best medicine, as it allows our bodies to recover and it strengthens our immune systems. Experts recommend 14 to 15 hours of sleep per day for infants, 12 to 14 for toddlers, 11 to 13 for preschoolers and 10 to 11 for school-age kids.
  • Make time for exercise and increase your overall physical activity, regardless of the weather. It’s natural to want to wrap ourselves in blankets and retreat to the couch when it’s blustery outside. Fight the urge. Bundle up the kids and get everyone outside for a walk or sled riding, or find indoor activities to keep everyone moving.
  • Drink up. Dry winter air, indoor and out, can dry out the lining of your nasal passages, creating tiny cracks that make you susceptible to infection. Drinking water can help moisten those membranes, so keep your water bottle handy and make sure to fill your children’s often, too.
  • Eat well. This time of year, especially, make sure your diet includes a hefty dose of Vitamin C and E, vitamins credited with boosting immunity. Also make sure your family steers clear of excess sugar, as it impairs the body’s ability to fight infection. Time to create some new nutritious family staples for you and yours? Check out our Pinterest board – Easy, Kid-Friendly Dinners for Busy Parents for delicious, healthy recipes to feed your family.
  • Have a back-up childcare plan. Realistically, chances are pretty good that either you or your child will need a sick day sometime this winter. Whether your child gets sick and can’t attend daycare or school or your in-home babysitter or nanny calls in sick, you’ll need a good childcare network and a back-up childcare plan. Whether it’s a helpful neighbor, a nearby family member or your UrbanSitter network of sitters, know where you’re going to turn if your normal childcare routine goes haywire. It will save you from undue stress and last minute juggling.
  • Know when to call the doctor. The flu can be dangerous, especially to young children. Remember that cold and flu symptoms are often the same and easily confused, though they are much worse with the flu. Watch for symptoms, including high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea that don’t improve after 24 hours and often increase in severity.

With a little prevention, planning and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be helping your family stay healthy and happy this flu season and well beyond.

Find last-minute babysitters who care for sick children at UrbanSitter.

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