It is more or less impossible to stop your children from catching colds. In fact a child can have on average 8 - 10 colds per year according to research. Catching colds is not all bad news and in many ways it is part of growing up. Having colds at an early age helps the body to develop general resistance to colds and help to protect your child from them in later life.
There are a number of steps you can take to try and minimise the chances of a child catching a cold without wrapping them in cotton wool.
1. They should not share food or drink with another child who already has a cold. This is an easy way for germs to spread.
2. Avoid other children who sneeze without using a tissue. A sneeze is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to spread the cold virus. If a child sneezes in their vicinity even a simple movement such as turning their back quickly can reduce the chances of catching germs. Encourage your children to carry tissues with them and to use them when required. It can be too late if they have to ask for one when they feel a sneeze coming on.
3. Try to get children into the habit of washing their hands in hot water, with soap. The water does not need to be boiling hot, but hot water is better than cold water for killing off germs. Make sure children wash the backs of their hands as well as the palms. This is especially important before eating a meal. If they have touched their eyes, nose or mouth after coughing and sneezing washing hands will help to stop the spread of germs.
4. A healthy diet does not cure all ills, but it does help a child to be generally healthy. Overweight children are more prone to catching coughs and colds and to succumbing to other minor illnesses. If your child is under the weather what they eat becomes even more important as nutritious food will go a long way to helping them get better.
5. The benefit of exercise should not be overlooked. Activities such as walking or cycling to school can help to activate their lymphatic system.
6. Wrap up warm. It is important that anyone keeps warm at colder times of the year. It is also important that after an activity such as swimming a child is dried off quickly and changes into warm, dry clothes.
7. Once a child becomes ill it is best for them to stay at home if they feel their body needs to sleep. There is no need to keep them away from school if they has a simple cold, but if they become rundown and over tired through their cold then rest may help to stop a secondary illness from developing.
The health section of Parenting.co.uk is not to be used as a substitute for your GP; if your child is ill then seek the advice of a qualified doctor or other health professional without delay.