Little Wiggles & Giggles Learning Center Encourages Healthy Families
This month, we’d like to share tips on how to keep your child healthy during the winter. Let’s face it—wintertime is synonymous with sickness. In our How You Can Prepare Kids for Winter Weather blog, we described ways to prioritize kids’ safety. Yes, it’s important they layer up, try to prevent nosebleeds, keep hydrated, and minimize exposure for their health and safety. Along those same lines, you should:
- Ensure little ones get a good night’s sleep.
- Feed the family a well-balanced diet.
- Practice contact precautions (wear masks, socially distance, etc.)
- Sanitize toys and everyday items.
- Teach proper handwashing and encourage frequency.
Teach Proper Handwashing and Encourage Frequency
Nothing prevents sickness-causing germs better than proper and frequent handwashing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, handwashing with soap “could protect approximately one out of every three young children to get sick with diarrhea.” The CDC also notes handwashing “could protect almost one out of five young children with respiratory infections.” The CDC reports that 1.8 million children under age five die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. On the CDC website, it says that handwashing reduces:
- Respiratory illnesses in the general population by 16 to 21%.
- Schoolchildren absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness by 29 to 57%.
What Exactly is Proper Handwashing?
Proper handwashing takes 20 seconds minimum, with soap and water, to effectively kill germs. After wetting both hands with clean, running water (cold, warm, or hot,) and applying soap, lather up. Be sure to cover the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails with soap. Scrub both hands for at least 20 seconds. (Hint: “Happy Birthday” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” take 10 seconds each to hum from beginning to end.) Rinse your hands thoroughly with clean, running water (cold, warm, or hot.) Dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry.
How Frequently Should Kiddos Wash Their Hands?
How frequently you should encourage kiddos to wash their hands is at your discretion. We encourage children in our care to wash hands before eating, as well as after using the potty. Handwashing is also recommended post mealtime, after touching animals or garbage, following playtime, and after blowing noses, coughing, or sneezing.
Use Disinfecting Methods to Regularly Sanitize Items Used Everyday
Even with frequent and proper handwashing, germs can still make it into little bodies via contact with everyday items. One way to stave off germ invasions is to sanitize these items. In most cases, just like with hands, soap and water works well to sanitize objects. You might also want to consider using bleach, alcohol wipes, or disinfecting sprays.
Don’t Forget to Sanitize Toys to Keep Your Child Healthy in Winter
Opting to sanitize as a means to keep kiddos healthy especially applies to the toys with which they play. Sanitize machine-washable toys with a load of laundry at least once per month. Solid toys, made of rubber or plastic, can easily be sanitized in your dishwasher, on the top rack. Make sure to select the normal or sanitizing cycle to wash and use the heated dry setting. Also, it’s important to thoroughly dry toys that come out still wet, to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Ensure Kiddos Get a Good Night’s Sleep for Their Overall Health
Ever notice how not getting enough sleep goes hand in hand with getting sick? That’s because a good night’s sleep allows your immune system to release proteins known as cytokines into your blood stream. While most cytokines simply enable a good night’s sleep, some cytokines need increased to ward off infections or inflammation. According to Harvard Medical School, studies show consistently not getting a good night’s sleep can contribute to long-term health problems. On the Mayo Clinic’s website, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, each night, children ages:
- One to two years old get 11 to 14 hours of sleep
- Six to 12 years old get nine to 12 hours of sleep
- Three to five years old get 10 to 13 hours of sleep
When the Family Eats a Well-Balanced Diet, It Boosts Their Immunities
A good night’s sleep isn’t the only factor that contributes to a functional immune system. Eating a well-balanced diet also helps adults and children alike to keep healthy in the winter, and all year long. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, not having a well-balanced diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies. In a study the HSPH conducted, it showed nutrition deficiencies drastically changed the subjects’ immune responses. The study concluded that malnutrition or an unbalanced diet can impair production and activity of immune cells and antibodies. We suggest using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “MyPlate” as a guide for planning out a well-balanced diet.
It’s Always a Good Idea for Everyone to Practice Contact Precautions
Since the world changed in early 2020, using contact precautions to stay healthy has become routine. Choosing to mindfully prevent the transmission of infectious agents keeps adults and children healthy during winter, spring, summer, and fall. Handwashing and trying to sanitize items are examples of contact precautions. Depending on your personal beliefs, you could also get vaccinated against infectious diseases, like influenza and COVID-19. Other contact precautions include:
- Having moderate to minimal contact with non-family members.
- Increasing the space between each other (ideally staying six feet apart).
- Wearing face coverings with two or more layers when in contact with others.
At Little Wiggles & Giggles Learning Center, we take care of children in the winter and all year long. For more information about our childcare services, call us at (570) 208-9125. Like us on Facebook and follow us for updates. We’d be happy to explain more about how to keep your child healthy during the winter.