Guardian Childcare & Education

How to Keep Your Child Healthy this Winter

8th May 2017

Winter health tips for children

For children, and for their unwitting parents, autumn tends to overcome us with chesty coughs and sniffly noses. Germs afflict early learning centres with about as much familiarity as Elsa’s winter fun dress and these months can be a macabre scene of tissues, tears and sleepless nights.

Although we might feel like slaves to the snot, there’s actually plenty we can do to keep our children fighting fit this winter season. We spoke with Dr. Aurora Sedmak, a naturopathic physician at Transformational Health, about the best ways to keep healthy this winter.

Hand washing

Dr. Sedmak argues that regular hand washing is one of the most basic and effective ways to break the cycle of infection. Getting children into the habit of washing their hands when they arrive and leave their centre, as well as when they blow their nose or have something to eat, is a great way to stop the spread of germs.

“Hand washing is more effective than using antibacterial cleansers or wipes because the agitation of the soap with a clean rinsing of water gets rid of bacteria better,” says Sedmak. Other good habits include washing towels and sheets regularly, which means at least weekly.

Eating right

We know! Getting vitamin-rich fruits and veggies into healthy children can be tough, however good food really does make for a good immune system.

“Garlic and onions have antiviral properties,” says Sedmak. If garlic bread isn’t on the menu, Sedmak suggests honey for children over the age of one. “Raw honey has antioxidant properties, which can help support your child’s immune system and naturally sweeten a warm drink. Manuka honey has shown some solid antibacterial properties, however it has a stronger taste so may not be as well-received with children.”

Sedmak advises us to avoid processed sugars, which can increase inflammation and prevent children from getting healthier sooner.

Supplements

“There are a lot of herbs that can help support the immune system, but the most effective are probably echinacea and elderberry,” says Sedmak. Echinacea bolsters the immune system while elderberry is an effective antiviral.

“During cold and flu season you can give children liquid echinacea three to five days each week to help generally stimulate the immune system. I tend to find warm tea the easiest way to dose my own children.”

Sedmak argues that probiotics can help balance the immune system overall, but most importantly for the mucous membranes. “Mucous membranes are any surface inside the body that are exposed to the outside world, such as sinuses and the digestive tract. Probiotics can be helpful in nasal and sinus illnesses, but can be especially helpful in shortening the amount of time a child experiences diarrhoea.”

Essential oils through an infuser

If your child is sniffly and congested you can run a vaporiser or infuser at night in his or her bedroom with a few drops of essential oils.

“Tea tree and oregano oils have strong antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and tea tree can also help open up blocked nasal and sinus passages. Another great one for children is lavender oil, especially if the child is overtired. Lavender is relaxing, which can improve sleep, as well as acting as an antiviral.”

Keep warm this winter

Dress for all occasions! T-shirts, jumpers, gumboots, warm hats and spare items of everything are essential for this time of year. Sleeveless vests are often a great compromise to the “I’m-too-hot-for-a-jumper” war cry and closed shoes with warm socks are a must.

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