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Keeping your kids healthy this winter

If you’re the parent of a young child, then you’re probably no stranger to the string of illnesses that are extra prevalent at this time of the year. 


It can feel exhausting and never ending. Especially in winter.


children's health in winter

The cooler months often see a rise in illnesses, including:

  • The flu

  • Bronchitis 

  • Colds

  • Coughs

  • Gastroenteritis 

  • And much more!


So, if you’re sick of your family being sick, then read ahead for our tips on keeping your kids healthy this winter.


How to avoid getting illnesses in winter

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to avoid illnesses. They’re around and young children are particularly prone to coming down with them due to their close proximity to others (often much closer than adults would typically be).


Then, as a parent of a sick child, you’re likely to become unwell too. It can feel like a vicious cycle.


We’ve gathered together our top tips on ways to help avoid becoming unwell and what to do if your family inevitably contracts some kind of virus this winter.


Sleep

Everyone knows that sleep is important for several reasons, but many underestimate its impact on our immune function. Getting enough sleep can help bolster your immunity to help your body fend off a nasty bug. 


For kids, the sleep guidelines vary depending on their age. Ensure your child has a night routine that helps signal to their brain that it’s time to wind down and sleep. Try to avoid exposure to blue lights (like phones, tablets, computers etc.), screen time, and activities that energise your child instead of relaxing them.


All children (and adults too) have different needs and sensory needs. One child may need to burn off some energy before bed while another may need to have a longer, more relaxing routine before bed. You know your child best, so try and find a routine that works best for your child and family.


A consistent sleep and wake time can help your child sleep better too. 


diet to help keep children healthy in winter

Diet

We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”. While we don’t necessarily agree with all interpretations, we do believe that what you put into your body has an impact on its function, and in turn, its immune system.


Limiting sugar and incorporating a diverse range of foods into your family’s lives can make a positive impact on gut health and immune function.


We understand that it can be very difficult to get children to eat certain foods.  Try your best to provide a balanced diet that is limited in “treat” foods and rich in wholegrains, vegetables, protein 


If you’re struggling with a particularly picky child, then seeking some medical guidance can be helpful. Book in to see your GP or consider seeing a dietitian. 


Exercise

Encourage your family to move their bodies on a daily basis. Inactivity in winter is commonplace. After all, who wants to get off the couch when it’s cold outside?


Creating fun ways to incorporate exercise can help motivate your children to leave the comfort of your cosy home and out into some outdoor time.


It may be tricky at first, but trying to get your family outside into the fresh air can help in many ways, including aiding the immune system.


Hydrate

We often see a drop off in hydration during the cooler months as we don’t tend to be as thirsty when it’s not hot and sunny outside. Water and hydration is still important in winter, so try to encourage your kids to regularly drink water. This is particularly important if your child is unwell.


Water is always best, particularly for children. Limit sugary drinks, such as juices (even completely natural juices), soft drinks, flavoured cordials etc.


Stress management

Seeing the term “stress management” in relation to children may be confusing to some, but children do experience stress. And, stress can have a negative effect on immune systems. 


All children, as with adults, experience stress in different ways. If you’re noticing that your child is often overwhelmed, anxious or withdrawn, then seeking medical advice may be beneficial in order to arrange any help, if necessary. 


Get the flu shot

The flu shot is the best defence in helping you avoid getting the flu. If you still catch the virus, the flu shot is likely to help you avoid getting seriously unwell.


You can book into our flu clinic to receive your flu shot.


What to do if your child is unwell

Despite our best efforts, it’s rare to get through winter without someone, if not everyone, in your family getting sick. 


Most common illnesses can be managed at home with rest, plenty of fluids and paracetamol if needed. 


Always remember to never hesitate in booking in to see your GP if you need guidance on helping your children, or yourself, through an illness.


When to see a doctor

We recommend that you see your doctor if you’re ever in doubt. If you feel that your child is seriously unwell and needs immediate medical attention, please dial 000 or, if safe to do so, get to your nearest emergency room.


Signs that your child may be in need of medical attention:

  • They have a lingering illness that won’t go away

  • They are showing signs of dehydration

  • They are having difficulty breathing, are breathing quite rapidly or sucking in at the ribs

  • Fever that is over 40 degrees

  • Fever that has lasted for more than 2 days

  • They appear to be getting more unwell instead of improving

  • Have a stiff neck

  • A rash

  • And more. Please see this factsheet by The Royal Children’s Hospital on Fever in Children


Parents often have a gut feeling that their child is needing medical attention. If you experience this, then please don't delay in seeking medical attention. You’ll either get peace of mind that everything is OK, or your child will receive the medical help that they may need.


Booking an appointment with The Clinic

We warmly welcome new patients and our doctors are well versed in providing care for children. Our family GP Clinic can take bookings online or you can call our friendly reception.


Learn more about us and our services on our website.



Keeping your children healthy this winter







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