Posted on Monday, October 24, 2016 by Yee Lee 2 minutes
Does this sound familiar? I hope it doesn’t to you but to many parents of young children (myself included), the parent on the phone is a something we have experienced. And here at HeadStart, we get calls from parents too.
And you may also relate that once a child is sick, the bug then passes to a sibling or caregiver and it goes around the household sometimes full circle back to the child.
But as parents and caregivers, we can do something to help keep our children healthy and well thereby giving them more time and opportunity to learn and play.
Today, lets discuss some measures that could keep your child and your household healthy and well!
As working parents in busy Singapore, you may be back from work late and dying to spend a bit more time with your child. But this could actually deprive him/her of much needed sleep. If your child doesn’t get enough sleep, their immune system may not be able to fight off bugs. Studies have shown that babies need up to 18 hours of sleep a day, toddlers and preschoolers need 12 to 14 hours, and grade-schoolers should get 10 to 11 hours. And in Singapore, it’s probably not practical for your child to wake up later if they sleep late, so if they are not hitting these numbers, do try to make their bedtime earlier.
This is something everyone already knows but it just needs to be said and done. A vast majority of infectious diseases, including the common cold, are spread through touch, so it’s crucial for your child to wash his hands often and thoroughly. One idea is to make sure your child sing “Happy Birthday” for them to lather up both sides of his hands and between his fingers.
You can also teach your child how to sneeze and cough into the crook of the elbow, not hands, so its less likely to spread germs through touch.
And if you are out and on the go, alcohol-based hand wipes or sanitisers are good alternatives for washing hands. So make it a good habit or practice for your kids to scrub up (or using a hand sanitiser) when they leave pre-school or day care, after every play date, and before they eat.
Viruses can live for up to two hours on objects like cups, counter tops, and towels, so disinfect frequently touched areas and objects with bleach or antibacterial wipes. Other hotspots where germs linger are TV remotes, fridge-door handles and doorknobs. So clean and disinfect those areas too!
Honey is a natural remedy that helps soothes the throat, relief coughs and helps a sick child to sleep better. Plus, it is sweet and kids may like it! Try giving small amounts of honey regularly. For example, half a teaspoon to children ages 1 to 5 years and one teaspoon to kids ages 6 to 11. But never give honey to babies younger than 1; they can get botulism from bacteria in it.
“You are what you eat”. So lets eat well to be well! Try to prepare meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables that will help boost your child’s immune system. Include foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, and oranges) and vitamin D (tuna, fortified milk, and cereals). Eating yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can also help build defenses.
Do ensure your child’s school or childcare center has a reasonable policy on keeping sick kids away from healthy ones. Many institutions (including us at HeadStart) do not allow a child with fever, bad cough or running nose, vomiting and diarrhoea to attend until these symptoms subside.
When you or your caregiver drop off your kids, if you notice obviously sick kids there on a regular basis, it may be worth the time to chat with the school about enforcing the rules on sick kids more stringently.
Prevention is better than cure. Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone above 6 months and is widely available at hospitals, polyclinics, paediatric clinics and GP clinics, costing between S$35-S$50. There are special vaccination instructions for children aged 6 months through 8 years of age.
Because it takes approximately 2 weeks for a vaccine to be effective, your child should get the vaccination before peak flu season starts. In Singapore, the season is generally from December and February, and May to July.
Kids will inevitably fall sick but when they do, as parents, our heart goes out and we wish we could take their place or reduce their suffering. It also takes a toil on caregivers physically as well emotionally. The downtime from school, learning and activities is also something we want to avoid if we could.
So do consider some of the suggestions above that could help prevent your child from falling sick and save everyone this anguish. I am sure you don’t want to call in to school like the dialogue above if you can help it!