Guest post by Holly Sanford, RN
School is just around the corner for many families, as summer vacation is coming to an end. Excitement abounds with the anticipation of new experiences, teachers, friends and extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, this also means that your little one will be around larger groups of children in smaller, poorly ventilated environments with less supervision for frequent hand hygiene. While catching a bug may seem unavoidable, incorporating basic infection prevention measures can reduce the frequency and severity of illness.
How to Prepare for Back-to-School Bugs
Common Back-to-School Bugs:
- Cold viruses
- Stomach Bugs
- Pink Eye
- Strep Throat
What can I do to Prevent Back-to-School Bugs?
It is well documented that hand-washing is the most effective intervention against the spread of infection. Teach your child to wash his or her hands before and after meals, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing and if there is visible dirt. You can elevate the hand-washing experience by allowing your child to choose the hand soap in the most frequently used home bathroom and incorporating a 20 second song while washing the hands.
Lack of rest often leads to immunocompromised bodies. Ensure that your child is getting enough quality sleep by creating a schedule for the new school year and adjusting to the schedule well before the first day. Make sure that your child has enough time to relax before bedtime with a bath, stories, songs, and snuggles. If your child has any signs of mucous, clear the airway with the Nozebot prior to going to bed to maximize comfort.
Healthy Food Choices
Assess your child's diet to facilitate nutritious options. Included a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, proteins and healthy fats. Superfoods are a wonderful way to boost any diet, which can include avocados, blueberries, salmon, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, eggs, honey, beans, etc. If your little one has a hard time eating these options, try creating a yogurt-based smoothie (recipe included at the end of the article).
Teaching children to keep their hands away from the face is paramount to preventing the spread of infection. Bacteria and viruses often enter through the orifices on the face and children who have a habit of putting their hands in the mouth or rubbing the eyes are more susceptible to illness. Help your child to establish alternative soothing skills with regular play toys, fidget toys or child-safe bracelets.
Check with your primary care doctor to ensure that your child is up to date with the recommended vaccines. It is best to get the flu shot before the end of October since it takes about 2 weeks to build antibodies to provide protection. The infection tends to peak in December through February, depending on the year.
Despite your best efforts to prevent the back-to-school bugs, you may find yourself with a sick little one. Contact your primary care provider if your child is feeling ill to establish early treatment and to prevent the spread of infection. If your child's illness is caused by bacteria, your provider may prescribe an antibiotic. Other over the counter medications may be helpful in managing the symptoms of both viral and bacterial infections.
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe:
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tsp Honey
1 cup fresh Spinach
Splash of coconut milk (to create the desired consistency)
Place all ingredients into a puree machine and blend until smooth.
Holly Sanford is a mother and a pediatric nurse of 9 years with a lifelong passion for helping children and their families. In her free time, she loves cooking new recipes, traveling to unique places and staying active with her family.