Last updated on Feb 26th, 2021 at 02:39 pm

Keep these habits in mind when trying to keep your children healthy this winter…

They wash their hands
Your mother was right – washing hands is the best way to prevent the transfer of bacteria. Get your kids into the habit of cleaning their hands when they get back from school or any other public place, and before they eat. If soap and water aren’t always available, use some hand sanitiser (there are handy small bottles you can keep in your handbag or nappy bag).

They exercise
Studies show that by exercising regularly, you can cut the number of days you’re sick with a cold or flu each year by up to 50%, which is a strong case for encouraging your kids to be active. Exercise increases the circulation of infection-fighting cells, so motivate your children to get active with something they love, whether it’s riding a bike, playing soccer, running around in a park, or playing catch in your garden.

They get plenty of sleep
A shortage of sleep can weaken the immune system, making the body vulnerable to illness. Ensure your child is getting enough rest: around 14–15 hours for babies, 12–14 for toddlers, and 10–12 for preschoolers.

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They have a healthy diet
Feed your child a variety of fruit and vegetables that have antioxidants that help to boost the immune system. Choose from a rainbow of colours, and those rich in vitamin C such as broccoli, kiwi fruit, strawberries and oranges.

Vitamin D (found in tuna, cereals and fortified milk) can also boost immunity. According to nutritionist Patrick Holford, essential fats are anti-inflammatory, and help to reduce infection. He recommends feeding your kids oily fish, nuts and seeds.

They get fresh air
It’s a myth that fresh air will make your child sick – the opposite is in fact true. Being indoors a lot of the time with forced heat dries out the mucous membranes, making children more susceptible to illness. Getting out in fresh air, while warmly dressed, is beneficial to your child’s health.

They avoid touching their faces
You’re not being overprotective when you tell your child to stop touching their face with their hands – cold and flu viruses enter the body through the nose, mouth and eyes. Prevent your child from doing this, and again, encourage them to wash their hands.