Winter makes one think of “a nip in the air”, cold mornings and chilly evenings. There are some precautions one should take to minimize the health risks that your baby or small child may face. Here are some tips
Keep your home warm
It is important to heat your home to ensure a steady temperature from day to night. Letting the cold overnight temperatures sneak in leaves your child at a risk of:
- The common cold –children develop a viral infection which is associated with runny noses, coughs and nasal congestion. Fever is also imminent in the early stages of the flu. Although this condition may appear all year round, protect your little one with the flu shot and increase their vitamin C intake as during winter.
- Strep throat – symptoms include sore throat, tummy ache and headache which may be experienced by school-age children.
- Croup – if you notice that your child suddenly has a barking cough in conjunction with a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing, this might be due to inflammation of the larynx and trachea in children. Croup symptoms get worse when your child is exposed to the cold, dry air of autumn and winter.
One could proactively test the indoor heating systems (should you have them) and make sure all ducts and vents are clear. Installing a programmable thermostat could help lower your electricity bill and keep the temperatures in your home steady as night falls.
Alternatively, use hot water bottles to warm beds, encourage your children to wear warm socks or slippers while in the home and try to keep heat indoors by closing windows and doors.
Dressing your child for outdoor winter play
Always keep a jacket at hand whether it be day-care, school or in the car. Dress your child in layers, so that they can remove the layers as the temperature rises during the day and add layers back as the cooler weather sets in again. Make sure your child wears closed toe shoes as most of your child’s body heat escapes through their feet. They will also be safer when playing in the fallen leaves outdoors.
Accessories for the winter months
Stock up on warm boots, gloves and hats to keep your little ones comfortable and warm for the winter season. Babies and young children don’t have the same tolerance as adults do when it comes to the cold weather.
Simple ways to avoid colds and flu
Colds are mainly caused by viruses that we are commonly exposed to, which spread easily with school-going children coming into close contact with one another through respiratory droplets in the air and on their hands. Using soap and water to frequently wash their hands will minimize the spreading of germs. Educate your child to cover their mouth while coughing as this prevents germs from spreading. Remember to keep immunizations up to date.
Protect your child’s skin from the harsh weather conditions in the colder months
Remember that UV rays can be harmful – the sun shines all year round even if you don’t feel it that much in the colder season. Lather on sunscreen before your kids head outside.
Apply Aquaphor, or a similar product, liberally – applying a skin barrier cream to their faces will help to protect it from becoming chapped and drying out. The use of a moisturiser daily is a must, to keep their skins healthy.
Consider a humidifier
The air in our homes dries out easily as we are forced to regulate the temperature. The use of a humidifier in your child’s room will add moisture to the air and prevent itchy, dry skin as well as a dry throat which can be caused by the dryness in the air.