UPDATE: The United States has over 4,000 cases of coronavirus and a total of 72 deaths as of March 16th, 2020. 36 states closed all schools to prevent of the coronavirus as of March 16th, 2020. Unless you absolutely have to leave the house to go somewhere essential, such as work, the pharmacy, doctor, or grocery store, avoid leaving the house as much as possible. A walk in the neighborhood or in the park isn’t too dangerous if you are not elderly or immunocompromised, but make sure to stay 3-6 feet away from people to practice social distancing (if this is not possible in your city, it’s a better idea to stay indoors).
It’s no surprise that we are hearing about the coronavirus wherever we go. This mysterious virus popped out of the blue and is quickly spreading worldwide. I live in a major city and we had our first official coronavirus case very recently! As a parent, you want to know how this major flu can affect your children. Luckily, according to the CDC, children are surprisingly not as affected by this global pandemic as adults and even exhibit milder symptoms than adults who are diagnosed with coronavirus. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be careful. After all, an English school is taking extra precautions by closing after a parent tested positive for coronavirus. Read on to find out how you can prevent your children from catching the coronavirus:
Even though it is important for everyone to wash their hands, it is especially important to enforce handwashing in children. After all, children are likely to get their hands dirty through play and can contract germs that way, therefore weakening their immune system. Parents still need to remind young children, such as preschoolers and toddlers, to wash their hands after getting their hands dirty, which makes them especially susceptible. Make sure that your child washes their hands:
- Before and after every meal
- After they finish using the bathroom
- After they come home from school or play
- After soiling their hands
Also, make sure that your children take off their shoes before entering the house and their school clothes before sitting on the couch or on their bed to prevent germs. Even though this may seem simple, it goes a long way in preventing your children from contacting germs, which can lower their immunity to viruses, such as the coronavirus.
You might think that naptime doesn’t have anything to do with getting sick or the coronavirus (and everything to do with getting a needed break!). But getting adequate sleep is one of the most important ways to strengthen the immune system. If your child is five or under, make sure that they take one to two naps a day that is one to two hours in length if they are not yet in school. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Infants need 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day
- Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep a day
- Preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day
- Kids need 9 to 12 hours of sleep a day
- Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day
This is a great guideline to go by, but it is important to use your intuition when it comes to how much hours of sleep your child needs that day. Since children are still growing, their needs might vary day by day. Make sure that your child gets enough sleep each night so that they wake up on the right side of the bed. If they wake up sluggish or grumpy, they might not have gotten enough sleep or their immune system might have a hard time fighting off illness. If this is true, it is best for your child to go back to sleep or to definitely get an earlier nap throughout the day so that their immune system can remain strong.
Make sure they eat their fruits and vegetables
Getting your children to eat fruits and vegetables can be a task within itself. If children are presented with the option to eat healthy food or to eat junk food, they will choose junk food any day. This is why it is super important to be especially conscious of what you eat around your children. If you eat a lot of junk food (even if you try to hide it from them!) they will notice and want to eat it as well. If you eat healthy food, they will want to eat it too, or at least be intrigued by what you are eating and want to try some. If your children are repelled from the green, leafy vegetables (many are!), you can try to introduce fruits and colorful vegetables to their diet that can help with the immune response:
- Oranges (Vitamin C)- Oranges are not only delicious. They are also super high in vitamin C, which helps build immunity to prevent you from becoming sick! Give your child an orange as a snack or make some fresh-squeezed orange juice for an immune boost!
- Lemon (Vitamin C)- You don’t want to give your kid lemons by themselves unless you want to recreate a lemon Vine! Squeeze some delicious lemonade that will taste refreshing and prevent them from coming down with any cold or flu symptoms.
- Cantaloupe (Vitamin C)- My son loves cantaloupe! It is also high in Vitamin C. Cut some cantaloupe slices for a healthy and refreshing snack!
- Broccoli (Vitamin A, C, E)- Luckily my son loves broccoli. You can put broccoli in a stir-fry (after all, kids love noodles!) for an extra immune boost.
- Watermelon- Watermelon is usually hailed as the perfect summer fruit since it is refreshing during the humid summer weather. But you can also eat watermelon during the cold and flu season. According to WebMD, it has glutathione, an antioxidant that helps strengthen the immune system.
Give them a daily multivitamin
There is a debate between whether or not it is necessary to give your children a daily multivitamin. Personally, I recommend it because many children are very picky and do not get enough nutrition through diet. When choosing out a multivitamin for your child that can help build their immune response, make sure that it is high in:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
It is great to choose a multivitamin that is vegan-friendly and gelatin free. Lil Critters Organics and OLLY Kids Multivitamins are two great options that have all of the immune fighting vitamins and minerals.
Build their immunity
Sometimes vitamin-rich foods and a daily vitamin aren’t enough. When your child is exposed to many pathogens and is in a school setting, they need herbs and supplements that can prevent them from getting sick in the first place. In my article, 5 Common Seasonal Childhood Illnesses and How To Prevent and Treat Them, I wrote about some great herbs that prevent my son from becoming sick or that can tackle viruses in the beginning stages. For viruses, such as the flu and coronavirus, I recommend elderberry. A great elderberry treatment for children is Sambucol Black Elderberry for Kids. Another great flu fighter is the NatraBio Children’s Cold and Flu Relief, which works for the youngest of children and is homeopathic. Other great immune builders include Childlife’s First Defense and Echinacea.
Increase their water intake
Drinking more water has enormous effects on the human body. Water repairs the body since our bodies are made of mostly water. It also helps the circulatory system since drinking water helps blood flow throughout the body faster. It is difficult enough for adults to drink more water throughout the day. Children who are not accustomed to drinking water regularly can feel like it is a task. It is important to make sure that your children get a cup of water with every meal and with a healthy snack like fruits, veggies, or nut butter. Try to give juice on a special occasion, unless it is freshly squeezed juice or lemonade. Due to its high lactose content, milk can create inflammation and lower the immune system, so you should avoid giving it with every meal, especially during cold and flu season.
There are certain risk factors that you just cannot prevent you are your children from getting in contact with. Unless you stay in the house all day, you will be around people who are sick. The best way to prevent your children from coming down with an illness is to remain aware. For example, if your child is in school or daycare, observe to see if you see any children who are attending who are sick. If you see children with runny noses and coughs, they can possibly come into contact with your child and infect them. If this happens, double up on preventative methods, such as fruits and veggies, water intake, vitamins and minerals, and herbs and supplements.
Keep them away from risky locations
To prevent your child from coming into contact with viruses, there are certain places that you might want to avoid taking your children. Avoid taking your children to indoor playspaces and arcades, since they do not have proper ventilation, many kids with cold and flu symptoms, and they have germ-harboring ball pits. Also, try to avoid taking public transportation as much as possible, especially during rush hour, since you are in a crowded area with people who may be sick and cough in the air or the same hands that they hold the subway pole with. Driving, Ubering, or walking to your location are safer alternatives.
Keep them home when they’re sick
This might seem obvious to most, but many parents do not choose to leave their children at home when they are sick, which is why it is so easy for your children to get sick at school. Many parents would take their children to school if they are not that sick, like if they have a runny nose or a wet cough, but leave their children at home if they have a fever or body aches. However, taking your child to school when they are mildly sick is not only risky for other children. It is also risky for your child because their immune system is especially vulnerable so even if they have a little cold, they are more likely to contract the flu or coronavirus if their body comes into contact with it. If you feel like your child even a bit under the weather, stay home with your child so that they can get rest and plenty of fluids to repair their body. If you have to go to work, let your child stay with a trusted caretaker, such as a babysitter or grandparent so that they can take care of your child while you are away.
Keep their hands out of their mouths (or eyes, or nose!)
Babies and toddlers under the age of two learn best by putting everything in their mouths. While this is fine when they are at home and all of their toys are sterilized, avoid letting them put any toy in their mouth from a playspace, since you do not know how often they sterilize the toys or if there were any sick kids who were playing with the same toys. Even older children have a habit of biting their nails or sucking their thumb or fingers, which can cause germs from their hands to enter their body, making them more likely to get sick. Try to get your children to nip these habits in the bud, and in the meantime, emphasize handwashing! If kids get into contact with germs and rub their eyes, they can get bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, which causes their eyes to become red and inflamed! When kids pick their nose, they spread germs on their hands and other parts of their bodies. Be aware and make sure that your kids practice healthy and sanitary habits.
Maintain a stress-free household
When you feel mentally better, do you notice that you feel physically better as well? It is not just a coincidence. Being in a better mental state improves your immune system. Do you ever notice that after your child finishes throwing a temper tantrum or crying, that they start to cough or get a runny nose? This is because when their body gets stressed out, their immune system weakens and whatever pathogens their body was fighting over begins to take over their body and get them sick. Keeping your child stress free begins with you. When you discipline your child, do not yell at them or become stressed out yourself. This will cause your kids to become stressed out and act out on it, and lower their immunity in the process. Even better, expose your children to coping mechanisms for stress, such as yoga, meditation, Tai Chi and even regular exercise. Since they are able to move their bodies, take deep breaths, and maintain focus, their bodies will get more oxygenated and repair itself!
If you didn’t already, let your kids get their flu shot!
In case you didn’t already know, it is more likely that you and your kids would come in contact with the flu than you would with the coronavirus. Therefore, it is especially important to give your kids the flu shot if you didn’t already. The flu shot can prevent your child from getting the flu. It can also cause flu symptoms to be shorter and less severe if you do get the flu. Unfortunately, there is no widespread coronavirus vaccine that can prevent you and your children from getting this particular virus. Therefore, the best thing to do is to strengthen your immune system so that they can fight off the coronavirus if they were ever to come into contact with it.
I hope that this information helped you tremendously with ways to keep your family safe.
Let’s keep in touch!