“This winter, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe, staying healthy (and keeping your immune system in tip-top shape) is of paramount importance.” (Parents.com)
Putting a focus on your preschooler’s health isn’t something new this winter, but the pandemic has pushed it to the forefront. The good news is that, this far into the COVID era, you may well be doing most if not all of what’s recommended to keep illness away. Here’s more information.
This practice is important, year-round, now more than ever. Because preschoolers learn by observing and then doing, allow your children to see you carefully wash their hands throughout the day and then let them practice. Talk to them about how clean hands can help keep people healthy.
Have them wash their hands before they eat and after they use the toilet. You can put together a kit for them that includes their own soap, washcloth, towel, and hand sanitizer. If they need a safety stool to reach the sink, provide one. You can find more handwashing information here.
When grocery shopping, focus on buying healthy ingredients while limiting the number of processed foods you buy. Consider having a weekly vegetarian night where dinner consists of ingredients like beans, rice, pasta, and veggies. Carefully manage snacks, including in their frequency and portion sizes and how healthy they are.
Involve your preschooler in preparing meals in age-appropriate ways, making it fun rather than a tedious task. Introduce new foods to preschoolers in small amounts. Here are tips on how to feed healthy foods to your picky eater.
Experts suggest that preschoolers get at least an hour of physical activity daily along with at least one (preferably several) hours of free play. This helps them to stay healthy and assists them in developing gross motor skills, fine motor skills and coordination. They can also learn how to follow directions, take turns during games, share, and more. Here’s more information about age-appropriate exercise. In the winter, this can include outdoor play, such as sledding, building snow people, and making angels in the snow. As Baby Center notes, it’s important to bundle up your children to keep them warmer and more comfortable when outdoors.
Although exposure to cold or damp weather doesn’t increase a child’s likelihood of catching a cold children are at risk for frostbite and hyperthermia in the winter. So, bring them inside regularly during playtime to warm up, especially if they are feeling cold or tired.
Preschoolers typically need ten to thirteen hours of sleep daily, including their naps—and so creating a regular sleep schedule with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times is crucial. Try not to vary them by more than 30 to 45 minutes, even on weekends. For a quality sleep environment, make sure that your child’s room is at a comfortable temperature with dimmed lights. Although it can make sense to permit a favorite stuffed animal in the bed, don’t allow your preschooler to fill up the bed with toys because then it can turn into a nighttime play area.
Extra tips for sufficient sleep include turning off screens an hour or more before your preschooler’s bedtime and being a role model by getting enough sleep yourself.
- When your child gets enough physical activity and limits sugar, it’s more likely that they’ll also get enough sleep. Each of these strategies can play into one another.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of water; he or she may not feel as thirsty in winter, but dehydration can happen all the same.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush after he or she had a sore throat, cold, or flu.
Here’s to a healthy winter!