Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Children Healthy this Winter

By Roy Benaroch, MD

As printed in Around Town Publishing, January 2006

Along with colder weather comes a busy time for congestion, coughing, and diarrhea. Here’s my top ten suggestions to keep your children healthy and safe this winter.

10. Avoid sick people. It should go without saying, but wintertime germs are carried by sick people. If you don’t want the infections, say away from people who are ill.

9. Avoid the chill. Your grandmother was right–recent research confirms that cold temperatures make it more difficult for your nose to prevent germs from invading. So bundle up!

8. Eat right. While there’s no credible evidence that megavitamins will give you any extra boost, a healthy balanced diet is essential to good health.

7. Get enough sleep. Sleep is an important time for your body to recover, and lack of sleep increases your vulnerability to infection.

6. Get some exercise. Though too much exertion increases your risk of injury and illness, a moderate amount of regular exercise helps boost immune function.

5. Immunize. Routine childhood immunizations provide critical protection against bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and other serious illnesses. And don’t neglect to take advantage of influenza vaccinations each winter.

4. Protect your family from potential dangers from your furnace: install and check the batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Children should know their own fire action plan by the time they reach school age.

3. Avoid choking hazards. New toys may include tiny parts that might not be safe for a younger sibling, and grandma’s house may not be as “babyproofed” as your own.

2. Drive safely. Winter traffic hazards include wet, icy weather and overindulgent drivers heading home from holiday parties. Use car seats and seat belts correctly; avoid driving in inclement weather; and absolutely do not get behind the wheel if you’ve been consuming alcohol.

1. Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the best single way to prevent infections.