winterkidsWith the season’s first snowflakes swirling across the Northeast, it’s crucial to formulate an action plan against the winter’s notorious coughs and sniffles. The good news? There are many ways to help safeguard your family against the looming cold and flu season — and it’s easier than you think!

 

Handwashing is key.The age-old advice rings true: handwashing is one of the easiest ways to prevent illnesses and other germs from spreading around the household. Teaching your kids to wash their hands well, and often, is an important life skill that can be applied year-round. What’s the best way to wash your hands, and for how long? Experts say you should lather up with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and always wash before and after meals, after coughing or sneezing, after using the restroom, and when returning home from school, work or other activities.

 

Tip: For the little ones in your family, make handwashing fun by encouraging them to wash their hands to the tunes of “ABC,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Happy Birthday” (sung twice) or a song of their own — just make sure it’s at least 20 seconds in length.

 

 

Keep those arms and legs moving. During the winter months, we tend to spend more time indoors where germs are likely to thrive. And with the chilly weather, and perhaps some snow in the forecast, it may seem easier for your kids to fall prey to a more sedentary lifestyle. However, according to the American Heart Association, it’s important to stay physically active, all year long. Whether ice skating at a local ice skating rink, building a snowman or just taking a neighborhood stroll, spending at least 60 minutes each day in the fresh air and sunshine will help your family get a healthy dose of Vitamin D — which is especially important in the winter months. Plus, daily exercise will help your children release energy, which in turn means a better night’s sleep.

 

Tip: Before your kids are exposed to the elements, make sure they dress appropriately. This means bundling up with winter jackets, scarves, gloves, hats, ski pants (if playing in the snow) and boots — all important for staying warm and preventing serious winter conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia.

 

 

Eat well. It’s as simple as that. Boost your family’s immunity and help them prevent — or shorten — colds this winter season by stocking up on fruits and veggies that are high in Vitamin C, such as strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, pears, cantaloupe, kiwi, guava, red peppers and broccoli, as well as Vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes, mangoes, apricots, carrots, kale and spinach.

 

Tip: Are your kids feeling under the weather? A warm bowl of vegetable soup will help hydrate their bodies and provide essential nutrients and leafy greens.