6 Ways to Stay Healthy When Caring for Sick Kids

Cold and flu season is here. Here are helpful tips for taking care of a sick child without getting sick yourself.

caring for sick kid

With germs hopping all over classrooms, day cares and playgroups, parents and nannies need to stay in tip-top shape. It's inevitable your household will come down with either a cold or flu, and when it strikes, you need to remain healthy to nurse little ones.

Experts lend tips on ways to stay healthy, even when the kids are not.

  1. Get Vaccinated
    Start the winter season on the right foot by taking precautions. "First and foremost, parents should get the seasonal flu vaccine," says Ian G. Dresner, M.D., of Pediatric Partners in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. "In addition, keep yourself healthy with a good night's sleep, a healthy diet, exercise and take 600 units of Vitamin D every day."

  2. Practice Prevention
    The call comes through confirming your child has the flu. Now what? Jonathan R. Cole, M.D., medical director at the California Health and Longevity Institute, believes that prevention is essential. "If your child is in fact diagnosed with influenza, you can take Tamiflu in a preventative dose to avoid the spread," he says.

  3. Wash Your Hands
    The easiest way to prevent germs from spreading is to wash your hands often with an anti-bacterial soap. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common mistake people make is not washing their hands when dealing with sick children. Parents and caregivers should wash their hands after changing a diaper, cleaning a sick child's toilet and helping a child blow his or her nose.

  4. Disinfect Your Home
    Fumigating your house of viruses may be time-consuming, but it will save you hours of missed workdays. The CDC recommends that you disinfect your child's toys, wash bedding in hot water and replace toothbrushes. In addition, use disinfectant wipes to swipe doorknobs, toilet seat covers and toilet flush handles, as well as phones, remote controls and computers.

  5. Boost Your Immune System
    The old wives' tale of getting your "beauty sleep" isn't so far-fetched during cold and flu season. Marin Kokin, L.Ac., a California-licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and National Diplomate in acupuncture and Chinese herbology, says preparing for flu season can be done naturally. "Get plenty of sleep," suggests Kokin. "Sleep recharges your body and will allow it to heal, especially when you are trying to avoid your son or daughter's illness." Adults need at least seven hours of sleep, whereas young children and teens need between nine and twelve hours per night.

  6. Eat an Apple a Day
    "Eat foods that will keep your system clear," says Kokin. "Minimize your dairy and fruit juice intake, which can cause phlegm to thicken and thus [make it] harder to eliminate congestion." You should also eat your veggies! "Dark green, red and yellow vegetables are jam-packed with antioxidants, plus vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene," says Kokin. Chop up a bunch of vegetables and add them to a pot of chicken soup. Garlic, citrus fruits and foods with zinc, such as meat, chicken, peanuts and peanut butter, are also great immune boosters.

Staying healthy during cold and flu season can be a challenge. Be smart this winter by taking precautions and following guidelines to prevent the spread of germs.

Jennifer Geisman is a freelance writer and faithful beauty junkie living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found here.

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan.  Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

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