healthy-1Cold and flu viruses strike more often during the winter. In fact, “flu” is the shortened version of the virus name, influenza—and the word “influenza” probably came from the Italian “influenza di freddo,” which translates into “influence of the cold.”

As The New York Times points out, the flu virus is more stable and stays in the air longer when the air is cold and dry. The low humidity of winter weather actually allows the flu virus to float, making it easier to spread.  And, recently, a study by a Yale professor revealed that the rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of the common cold, can reproduce more readily in colder temperatures.

So, what can you do? We offered these tips recently, but good health is so important that we’re offering more.

Tips for Wintertime Health

Continue to encourage hand washing. As points out, the Centers for Disease Control reports that children using proper hygiene miss 2.42 days of school annually, while those who don’t wash properly miss 3.02 days. Get your child into the routine of washing hands well, with warm water and soap:

  • Before and after meals
  • After coughing and/or sneezing
  • After using the restroom
  • After preschool or school offers more hand-washing specifics

Make sure the water is warm, but not too hot for young hands. Lather with soap for about 20 seconds, making sure to wash:

  • The inside of hands (palm side)
  • The back of hands
  • In between fingers
  • Under the nails
  • The wrist area

Rinse well and dry with a clean towel. If water is not available, have alcohol-based wipes or gel handy.

Make sure your child eats well-balanced meals—which doesn’t have to mean they have to be boring. offers plenty of kid-enticing ways to serve healthy foods. For example, to get your child to eat more vitamin C-rich fruit, you can skewer papaya, strawberries and cantaloupe, and serve these fruit kebabs with a dip consisting of cream cheese and marshmallow fluff. Or, dip orange segments into melted dark chocolate.

Does your child turn up his or her nose at veggies? They’re important to a healthy immune system, so make ants on a log (celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins), or let your child dip sliced carrots, red bell peppers and cucumbers into a creamy dressing such as ranch or bleu cheese.

Read the rest of the article for tips on creating enticing meals featuring lean protein (which powers up the immune system), good fats (also important for immune function) and more. Also find tips for picky eaters.

Ask your doctor if your child should also take a daily vitamin and whether a flu shot is appropriate. Ensure that your younger child gets 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night and dress him or her warmly.

And, a final point. In general, we encourage our children to share—but sharing drinks can transfer germs. So explain to your child how it’s important not to sip from someone else’s juice box or offer his or hers to a friend after drinking some themselves. Also explain why it’s important: NOT sharing in this instance can help keep everyone healthy and feeling good.

Looking for more ways to enrich your child’s life? Horizon Education Center provides affordable quality care, including educational and enrichment opportunities for children in the following Northeast Ohio locations.

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