“Did you wash your hands?” a common question you will hear around my home when my children ask if they can have a snack.

I always thought I did a great job with making healthy habits a part of parenting. The problem I realized, is that I need to follow up with my kids to make sure that they are doing things properly.

For instance, when my daughter says she “washed” her hands I was surprised to notice that all she did was turn the faucet on, race her hands through the stream of water and then turn the faucet off.

Problem? Yes, I think so! No soap! It seems I have some more work to do with explaining the details and importance of hand washing to a certain four year old…

 

In this article you will find five great tips to help keep kids (and yourself!) healthy this season.

1.) Wash your hands:

Yes, There is a great way to help remind your kids about proper hand washing. Ask them to scrub with soap while singing a song such as “Happy Birthday” through twice.

15- 20 seconds is the goal.

Remind them to scrub in between the fingers and up to the wrists. According to an article in Parenting magazine “Regular hand-washing dramatically reduces the passing of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, so get your kids in the habit of scrubbing up (or using a hand sanitizer) when they leave preschool or day care, after every playdate, and before they eat.

 

2.) Eat the “good stuff”

No, I am not talking about doughnuts, fruit snacks and chocolate! It is essential that kids are receiving good nutrition year round to keep their Immune Systems going strong, but especially during cold and Flu Season.

A balanced diet of protein for rebuilding cells, whole grains for sustained energy, and fruit and veggies are essential for Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Try to aim for at least five fruits and or veggies per day”, says Akiko Hall, MD.

 

3.) Get plenty of Zzzzz’s yes, sleep is especially important for growing bodies.

According to Dr. Hall, “Studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to an impairment in immunity, including fewer white blood cells (our bodies’ main cellular defense against infection) as well as fewer antibodies (one of the weapons our white cells use to fight germs)

Research suggests that although every child is unique, as a general guide toddlers/preschoolers need about 11-13 hours of sleep a night, young school-age kids 10-11 hours, “tweens” 9-10 hours and teens 8-9 hours.

 

4.) Get the flu vaccine.

There are actually two different forms of the flu vaccine available. One is via a nasal spray referred to as FluMist. The other is the traditional shot.

According to Babycenter.com healthy children ages two and up with no history of wheezing or asthma can receive FluMist.

Healthy children as young as 6 months can receive the flu shot. Although there may be some initial side effects such as soreness on the injection site for the shot, low grade fever or headache these symptoms are not present in all who receive the vaccine and are much less debilitating than the symptoms of the full blown flu.

5.) Exercise.

For those of us living in the colder parts of the country it can be hard to get motivated to exercise when the temperature drops outside. Research has shown that when kids get regular exercise, especially outside it can help maintain health.

According to Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for children ages 5 -11, staying active for at least 60 minutes a day can help children:

–  Improve their health.
–  Do better in school.
–  Improve their fitness.
–  Grow stronger.
–  Have fun playing with friends.
–  Feel happier.
–  Maintain a healthy body weight.
–  Improve their self-confidence.
–  Learn new skills.

 

*Keep in mind that parents will want to dress their children appropriately according to the weather.

 

As I sit comfortably in my chair and look out the front window I can see the patches of snow in my yard and the thin skiff of ice on the wooden deck outside. A good reminder for THIS parent to keep up with healthy habits for myself and my own kids this season. Here’s to a fun and healthy winter!

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