When your child is sick, you’re extra-vulnerable to getting sick yourself. Stay healthy this flu season with these easy tips.
Despite our best efforts, it’s hard to keep children from getting sick in the winter. Even if they’ve gotten flu shots and learned good hand-washing habits, they likely spend all day sharing toys, snacks, and playground equipment with lots of other children — it’s only to be expected that they sometimes return home with a cough, sneeze, or sniffle.
If you’re playing nurse to your sick child, you don’t have to succumb to the winter bug too. While it can be difficult to avoid catching your child’s illness, with the right precautions, you can increase your odds of staying healthy this season.
1. Wash your hands.
You’ve likely been told to wash your hands to avoid illness about a million times, but that’s because this simple tip works wonders. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand washing is one of your best weapons in preventing the spread of sickness. The CDC recommends at least 20 seconds of scrubbing, with warm water and antibacterial soap.
Because you can’t always guarantee quick sink access when you’re around your sick child, it’s also a good idea to keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer on hand. Most infections are spread through hand-to-hand contact, so it doesn’t hurt to be extra cautious.
2. Keep your child away from the kitchen.
In most homes, the fridge handle is the most-touched surface in the house, making it a hot spot for swapping germs. Not to mention that countertops and tables tend to be great breeding grounds for germs too. From any of those surfaces, bacteria and viruses can easily transfer to the food inside and infect everyone in the house.
Your child may love helping you in the kitchen or coloring at the counter, but for the time being, make the kitchen a no-go zone. Fortunately, bacteria doesn’t breed easily on blankets, so you can encourage your child to nap in their bed or even in yours while the kitchen is off-limits.
3. Cut back on close contact and disinfect surfaces.
Viruses can’t travel further than three feet, so you don’t need to quarantine yourself or your child while they’re ill. However, it’s a good idea to put a safe distance between yourself and their germs. Try to avoid hugging, kissing, or close face-to-face contact; if you can’t resist giving your child a kiss, the top of their head is usually safest.
But although viruses can’t travel far, they do tend to linger. Use cleansers with the word “disinfectant” on the label to eliminate germs and keep your child’s illness contained, and avoid sharing towels or toys for the duration of the sickness. However, there’s one thing you can hold off on cleaning: your child’s toys. Lower your chances of coming into contact with germs by waiting to give the toys a deep clean until the illness has passed.