While it’s impossible to completely defend your toddler from winter colds and illness, there are lots of ways that you can at least help to build up his defence barriers
Life with a toddler can seem like an endless episode of sneezes, coughs and poorly time.
‘Most toddlers will catch 10-12 colds per year and the vast majority resolve spontaneously after a week or so,’ says midwife Karen Mardon of Sleepthrough Limited. ‘Toddlers are building up their immune systems and as they grow older, the number of colds contracted tends to reduce.’
But until his immune system’s grown up, we’ve rounded up the best ways that you can help him stay healthy this winter…
1. Keep everything hygienic
Probably the best way to help your toddler fight off germs is by teaching him the importance of hygiene.
‘Be mindful of simple hygiene for example, washing hands regularly and cleaning toys,’ advises private health visitor Julia Headland. ‘Toddlers often pick toys up and put them straight into their mouths and in a toddler group situation where toys are readily shared, this may spread germs.’
‘Most toddlers will catch 10-12 colds per year and the vast majority resolve spontaneously after a week or so'
Buy a fun, child-friendly soap for your child to use before and after eating, and after going to the loo. Try and get him into a routine of washing his hands – make it part of his morning and evening routine. And when you’re out and about, carry an antibacterial hand wash or wipes with you.
2. Keep an eye on his health
You know your toddler better than anyone, so you’ll probably be first to notice if he’s coming down with something.
‘Be aware of signs and symptoms of illness and seek medical attention if you suspect that your child is unwell with something serious,’ says Julia. ‘Trust your instincts as it is better to be safe than sorry.’
Telling the difference between flu and a cold is easier if you know the symptoms.
Make sure you’ve got all of the basic medical essentials in the house, such as infant paracetamol and a thermometer. This will be a huge help if your toddler gets ill in the middle of the night.
3. Keep his diet healthy
A good and nutritious diet will help keep your toddler fighting fit throughout the winter.
‘The Department of Health advises that all children from the ages of six months to five years are given supplements containing vitamins A, C And D in the form of vitamin drops,’ explains Julia. ‘This will be especially important for those with fussy eaters but even for those children who do eat a well-balanced diet. It is still difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone.’
Try to get your family into a good food routine with a diet inclusive of all the food groups and plenty of fruit and vegetable – get some mealtime ideas from our recipe section. And most importantly, make sure your toddler stays hydrated aiming for five cups or water or juice a day.
4. Keep him away from illness
While you can’t keep your toddler away from every coughing and sneezing person in the street, it’s a good idea to postpone your friend’s plans of coming over for dinner if she thinks she’s coming down with something. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
Check your toddler’s nursery policy on illness to see if they accept unwell children.
5. Keep his immunisations up to date
Staying on top of your toddler’s immunisations is really important. It will make sure he can fight off any illnesses much more effectively.
Your toddler can now have have the flu vaccination, too.
6. Keep his sleep routine going
A good night’s sleep will help keep your little one fighting fit.
‘Adequate rest and sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system,’ says Julia. Make sure you’ve got a great bedtime routine in place to encourage your toddler to have a good long snooze each night.
How do you try to keep your toddler cold-free? Share your tips below.