There’s no fool-proof way to keep the kids healthy, especially if you ever want to leave the house, but I hope that these tips give you some clear ways to reduce germs in kids. And of course: Stay home if anyone is sick!
Simple Ways to Reduce Germs in Kids
Kids put everything into their mouths, including their hands, which can make it seem impossible to keep them from getting all of the germs everywhere that you go. And while it’s for sure a logistical challenge, having a plan in place for when you’re out in public traveling, playing at the library, going to daycare, and more can reassure you that you’re at least trying to keep them clean.
TIP: The single best thing you can do to help keep the kids healthy is to have them (and help them) wash their hands regularly. It’s free, usually possible to do most places, and can be fun for them if they like to play with water.
How to Help Keep Kids Healthy
Here are 25 ways to try to keep the kids healthy and from bringing germs they’ve picked up while out and about back home. None of these things is an iron-clad guarantee, but they can help us to all feel less panicked about cold and flu season. (And clearly the Coronavirus.)
- Wash hands with soap and warm water while you sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Dry hands completely after washing. (Wet hands can spread germs more easily than dry!)
- Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol during and after being in public places.
- Wipe down armrests, tray tables, and windows with sanitizing wipes when you board an airplane.
- Wipe down public changing tables before you use them with sanitizing wipes. Use a disposable changing pad liner and toss it when done.
- Leave lovies in the carry-on bag when on a plane/train/subway/taxi so they don’t touch everything!
- Change kids clothes in the bathroom after getting off a plane before getting into the car. Wash hands again.
- Have a designated daycare lovie and blanket to leave there during the week. Bring home and wash each weekend (before your child plays or sleeps with it at home).
- Help kids wash their hands before leaving daycare.
- Change clothes when you get home from daycare. Wash hands again (and before each meal).
- Use a disposable placemat for a baby when eating out. And wipe down the highchair with sanitizing wipes.
- Regularly wash winter coats.
- Remove shoes before entering the house to avoid tracking dirt and germs inside.
- Regularly wipe down toys (and counters and door knobs) with sanitizing wipes.
- Try to keep noses clean with tissues that you toss (and avoid letting the kids wipe their snot on their clothes).
- Use saline nose mist to help clear noses.
- Use a humidifier at night to help with congestion.
- Teach kids to cough into their elbow.
- Serve a range of colors of produce for a variety of vitamins.
- Include a lot of Vitamin C rich produce.
- Consider a multi-vitamin as a nutritional safety net.
- Try a probiotic, which may reduce the duration of a cold.
- Get outside for fresh air everyday (baring bad weather!).
- Provide lots of opportunities for the kids to move their bodies.
- Serve lots of water throughout the day.
- Stay home whenever anyone is sick.
TIP: I know how hard it can be to take time off from work when a kiddo is sick, especially if it seems like they’re constantly sick. We for sure need better parental leave policies but I hope employers can be flexible and understanding these circumstances.
The Importance of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial for growth and development, but also for keeping the immune system healthy. So do your best to help the kids get enough sleep in their day. (This post has a lot of great information about how much sleep kids need in a 24 hour period.)
Kids who go to daycare seem to, in my experience, spend a lot of time with runny noses and colds. Which makes sense since they’re in contact with a lot of other little kids! It can seem like a losing battle to try to keep their hands (and noses) clean, but you can only do your best when you pick them up. So use those tips about washing their hands before you leave the center, changing their clothes, and trying to avoid bringing the same lovie back and forth each day to reduce the spread of germs as you can—or at least help yourself feel like you’re doing SOMETHING when you’re anxious about everything going around.
Best Natural Hand Sanitizer
We like the Honest Company Hand Sanitizer and the one from Babyganics. There seems to be none available online that I can find to link to, so look for one with 60% alcohol to ensure that it kills the germs you think it will.