Our pediatricians share tips for a happy, healthy holiday season.
The holidays stir up many memories in our minds…sitting by the fire, laughter, hugs and greetings from friends and family near and far. However, the holidays also occur in the midst of cold and flu season, and close-quarter gatherings mean exposure to a lot of germs! Most of us are short on time and have escalated levels of stress, in addition to getting less sleep. All of this creates an environment in which adults and children are more likely to get sick. Here are some tips to keep you and your family healthy during the holiday season:
- Keep It Clean. Hand washing is something that health professionals repeat over and over again. It cannot be stressed enough how important thorough and frequent hand washing is to staying healthy. Think you and your children are handwashing correctly? Check out this video to make sure you are not skipping steps, missing parts of your hands, or not washing for long enough.
- Stay home! If you are sick (particularly with fever) it is best to stay home and rest. This also limits how many people you will expose while being sick. If someone with a cold is present at a holiday greeting, close contact should be avoided. Close contact includes kissing, hugging, feeding, diaper changes, or frequent contact within 3-4 feet.
- Manage Stress. This time of year, many schedules are filled to the brim. Remember that kids feel the stress of the holidays, too! Recognize the symptoms—tears, tantrums, regressive behaviors—and plan for them. Children thrive on routine. Take breaks to sit down and eat at regular mealtimes. Plan for some downtime every day, when you and your family can have a few minutes of uninterrupted together time. Aim for consistency with your bedtime routine. Bringing along a favorite toy or “lovey” and a few healthy snacks (remember nutritious snacks for yourself, too!) will also provide comfort and fuel to kids on the go.
- It’s OK to Say No! It is important to set limits that make sense for you and your family, from gift giving to participation in activities. The holidays can be a good opportunity to talk to your kids about your family’s unique traditions and teach them to appreciate that everyone celebrates in their own special way. The American Psychological Association has some good tips on managing expectations during the holiday season.
- Stick it to the Flu. Have you gotten your flu shot yet? Children 6 months and older are eligible to receive a flu vaccine. If your child has not been vaccinated yet, please contact the office to book a flu vaccine visit. If your baby is too young for his or her first flu shot, consider getting one and asking other caretakers to as well.
- Traveling for the holidays? If your holiday plans involve international jet-setting, the CDC has information on any travel vaccinations needed, plus tips on insect repellent, food safety, and general travel safety. Please call the office to speak with one of the registered nurses or doctors if you are traveling out of the country for the holidays.
Wishing you all the healthiest and warmest holiday season!