As frustrating as it may be, the common cold is an extremely common illness among young children and most are likely to have, on average, eight colds each year. Preschool age children are more prone to picking up colds because their immune systems are still immature making them susceptible to every contagious germ. They are also not old enough to blow their nose and they don’t remember to wash their hands which makes it harder for them to fight the germs. There are over 200 different viruses that can cause a cold and because they are viral infections, they are not treatable with antibiotics.
Children who attend daycare are also more likely to pick up colds, because the virus spreads from hand to hand contact as well as by infected objects such as books and toys. The virus can live on an object for a couple of hours, so toys that get shared around at daycare are spreading the germs from one child to another.
The only way to really prevent a cold is to avoid all contact with those who are infected, but we all know that is rarely possible so here are some tips to help avoid colds and cope with them when your kids fall ill.
- Because colds are spread by contact with infected surfaces the best way to help prevent colds is to teach your child to frequently and thoroughly wash their hands. Ensure they use soap and water and they wash their hands after using the toilet as well as before every meal.
- Another way that colds are spread is through the air so try and teach your children to use tissues from a young age. Teaching them how to blow their nose or sneeze into a tissue can be difficult but eventually they’ll get it and it can help to prevent those nasty germs becoming airborne.
- Don’t let your children share cups or water bottles as the germs can easily transfer from one mouth to another.
- Make sure your children get plenty of rest and have a healthy diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables, to help boost their immunity.
- If you child has a cold consider using a humidifier or vaporiser in their room at night, as this can help them to breathe easier.
- Saline drops help to clear the nose and are great to use on young children. You can purchase sprays from the chemist or make you own at home.
- A chest rub with eucalyptus such as Euky Bear is great for treating a cold. It helps to clear the nasal passages and can ease coughs.
Honey is a great remedy for colds and has been found to be just as effective as some cough medicines, but ensure your children are over 12 months before you give it to them. Here is a basic home recipe for cough medicine that I use for my young ones.
¾ cup of honey
¼ cup of olive oil
juice of 2-3 lemons
- Heat all of the ingredients in a pot then remove from heat and let cool.
- When you need to use it, heat a small amount until it is runny (because it normally goes quite firm once it’s hard).
- Give by the tablespoon.
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