1. Make sure they wash their hands
Germs are commonly spread through touch and washing your hands properly is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.
Teach your child to wash their hands properly. You should:
- Wet your hands with clean water.
- Use soap to lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails, and your wrists.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands with clean water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel.
Your child should wash their hands:
- After using the toilet
- After blowing their nose, sneezing, or coughing
- Before and after being in contact with a sick friend or family member
- Before and after eating
2. Make sure they are getting enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is just as important for your health as eating healthy and getting enough exercise. Not only can enough sleep improve your child’s mood, but it can help your child’s immune system fight off the common cold.
How much sleep should my child get? The following is a guideline and refers to total sleep (nap times included):
0-3 months: 14-17 hours
4-11 months: 12-15 hours
1-2 years: 11-14 hours
3-5 years: 10-13 hours
6-13 years: 9-11 hours
3. Try to encourage healthy eating
Try to get your child to eat the rainbow – make their plate of food colourful with a wide variety of fresh, canned, frozen, or dried vegetables and fruit. Where possible, include healthy proteins (seafood, lean meat, eggs, beans, seeds, and nuts) in every meal and try to go for whole grains (such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice) instead of refined grains (white bread, pasta, and rice). Encourage your child to eat and drink dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Children’s appetites may vary, depending on age, growth spurts, and activity level. The rule of thumb is to start with a smaller portion and if they are still hungry, offer them more.
4. Get them active
Exercise keeps us healthy, and children need to be active for at least one hour a day. It does not have to be a full hour in the gym – children can get active by playing on the playground or the whole family could go for a walk or bicycle ride. You can even turn exercise time into a game – dance to your favourite tunes or play movement games like Twister or Simon Says.
5. Help them manage their stress
If your child is stressed, it can have a negative impact on their health. Help your child manage their stress by giving them time to play and giving them a safe space to talk about their day and things that worry them.