Isn’t this time of the year just the WORST for sickness? I feel like my older son is a walking petri dish and everyone I know has some kind of cough or crud. So, I’m sharing 5 tips for surviving cold + flu season with little ones.
Teach proper hand-washing early
Prevention is the easiest way to keep your house from getting sick. Hand washing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia (fun facts courtesy of the CDC). Make sure all kids keep their hands clean, especially when coming home from school or daycare! Teaching young children (and husbands) the importance of hand-washing can reduce respiratory illnesses by about 20%. So, keep a stool in the bathroom for toddlers old enough to wash their hands on their own, and make sure to wash frequently throughout the day and always before eating.
Stop sharing cups
We always have a gang of kids in my house, and when one wants a drink, they ALL want a drink. This leads to multiple sippy cups circulating my tiny house. Not only do they tend to waste what they’re drinking, they inevitably end up sharing their drinks. Because of this, it always seems like when one kid gets something, they ALL get it.
To keep drink sharing to a minimum, try giving each kid a designated cup and keeping it on the kitchen counter instead of letting them carry it around. This also helps prevent the dreaded what’s-in-this-lost-cup-i-found-from-six-weeks-ago syndrome.
Keep your medicine cabinet stocked
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Bulk up your medicine cabinet now so that when you need things, you don’t need to run out late-night. Here’s my 9 must-haves:
I love my Kinsa thermometer. The probe is about $15 (sometimes runs cheaper), and connects to any smartphone. You download their free app and it’ll take record your child’s temperature. You can also track symptoms and it’ll keep a log for each member of your family. Instead of a big, bulky humidifier, I’ve opted for this portable one by Crane. I love that it’s compact and easy to store. Plus, it’s easy to completely clean (which helps reduce the chance of mold!). Finally, I know NoseFrida is all the rage… but I just can’t bring myself to use it. I stick to the good old hospital-grade suction bulb. They’re only $2 on amazon, which is cheap enough to replace frequently (so don’t let it get black mold inside!).
For stuffy babies, Vicks BabyRub is perfect. I didn’t put it on my son’s chest until he was over 1 year old (because his skin is really sensitive). Instead, I usually slather it on the bottoms of baby feet post-bath and then cover with socks. This Johnson & Johnson’s soothing vapor bath has similar ingredients that help combat congestion as well. I’ve also replaced using normal tissues or baby wipes for a runny nose with Boogie Wipes. Since they contain saline, they prevent little noses from getting dried out and cracked! I use them myself too!
As far as actual medicine is concerned, here’s what I’d never run out of. Zarbee’s all natural cough syrup (there’s a baby version without honey for those under a year old). Little Remedies Saline – great for all ages, since you can use it as drops (infants) or spray (toddlers). And of course, Tylenol, my first defense in controlling a fever. Secret Tip: Children’s and infant Tylenol is exactly the same dosage of acetaminophen (160mg per 5mL) – infant is just double the cost!
Boost your immunity
If vaccines aren’t your thing, feel free to skip (not looking to start any debates). Personally, I err on the side of caution and have chosen to get the flu shot every year since working in the health care industry. We’ve never had any adverse reactions to it, and I’ve also never gotten the flu, so I’m OK with committing to getting the shot every flu season. I also have an up-to-date Tdap (whooping cough) vaccine. With a little guy who’s just seven months old, I’m trying my best to keep these serious winter illnesses at bay.
Disinfect those toys!
Finally, my last tip is to clean off your toys every once in awhile. I like to run any non-electronic plastics through the dishwasher on sani-rinse (this includes bath toys) just to keep the funk away. Lysol is a great helper – you can just spritz on toys if your kids are old enough that they aren’t really putting things in their mouths. Otherwise, Babyganics makes a great non-toxic toy cleaner spray that runs about $3 a bottle!