It’s that time of year when it seems nearly everyone is sneezing, coughing and wiping a runny nose. This is especially true if you have children or around children frequently. How do you keep your family healthy when the odds certainly seem stacked against you?

Try practicing these helpful tips for keeping everyone well this flu season:

  • Wash hands frequently. Young children should be taught to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Many teachers and daycare providers have them sing a short song, such as “Happy Birthday” sung twice, to show them just how long to scrub. It’s important to wash hands throughout the day, especially after using the bathroom, before meals or snacks, and when returning home. For babies, clean their hands throughout the day with alcohol-free wipes.
  • Teach kids to keep their hands away from their mouths and noses, especially until they can wash them properly.
  •  Create snacks and meals with lots of whole grains, dark leafy greens (Homemade Kale Chips are awesome!), and foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries. Tea is also a great disease fighter. Serve it to your kids warm with a bit of milk and honey.
  • Make sure the whole family gets plenty of 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.
  • Keep the fluids flowing to keep hydrated and loosen congestion. 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.
  • Fight the spread of germs by regularly wiping down the areas of your home shown to harbor the most germs, such as refrigerator handles, remote controls, and doorknobs.
  • Arm you family with flu shots. Doctors recommend that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot. Since the flu peaks in January or February and can extend into March or April, it’s not too late to get one, if you haven’t already.
  • Make a pot of soup. Research shows that the ingredients in chicken soup actually make you feel better thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. The steam also helps by clearing your sinuses. We love this recipe from Padma Lakshmi that puts a flavorful twist on traditional chicken soup — Indian-Thai Chicken Soup with Butternut Squash and Spinach.
  • Know when to see a doctor. The symptoms of colds and the flu are often confused. Watch for signs of the flu, which may be the same as those of a cold, though more severe. See a doctor within 48 hours of the onset of the flu for a prescription for flu-fighting TamiFlu. Flu symptoms include:
    • high fever
    • headache
    • cough
    • sore throat
    • runny nose
    • body aches
    • tiredness
    • vomiting and diarrhea (especially in younger children)
  • Teach kids not to share drinks or food. It’s good practice to follow this rule even within your home.
  • Keep moving, regardless of the weather. It’s easy to retreat to the couch and resort to a movie for afternoon entertainment when it’s cold outside. Instead, bundle up your kids and get the gang outside for a brisk walk or game of Freeze Tag.

Have a child home sick or are you down-and-out with a cold yourself, despite your best efforts to ward off germs? Remember, UrbanSitter is there when you need a back-up babysitter!

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