Nothing’s worse than nursing a sick child, so it’s best to prevent the onset of illness. One way is to instil healthy habits in your little one from the get-go, such as doing something as simple as making sure he washes his hands. Check out other easy-peasy ways to keep the bugs at bay:
1. Wash hands
Handwashing is a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of illnesses, such as influenza and hand, foot and mouth disease. Make up a fun jingle to encourage your child to wash his hands at appropriate times (say, after meal times and using the toilet). Keep a sturdy step-stool in the bathroom, so he can reach the sink. Get a hand-soap dispenser in the shape of an animal or favourite cartoon character to make handwashing fun.
2. Teach good personal habits
Teach him to cover his nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. It will be useful to pack tissues when the family is out and about so you can offer them when he needs to clean up.
3. Offer plenty of water and healthy food
The Health Promotion Board recommends that by consuming a variety of foods from the three food groups — brown rice and wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables, meat and others — children will have all the nutrients they need. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre so get your child into the habit of eating brightly coloured fruits and vegetables every day. Wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and oats are also packed with the same goodness. Other super-foods include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, which help build strong, healthy bones and teeth in children. Drinking lots of plain water helps flush waste products from his body and maintains his body temperature.
4. Stay away from junk food
Keep junk food like sugary food and drinks to a minimum, as eating too many empty calories will put him on the road to obesity, which brings along a host of health issues, not to mention potentially damaging his teeth and gums.
5. Get him to play and move
Moving around and getting plenty of exercise helps his body and mind stay healthy. Play is important to a child’s neurological development and they learn invaluable skills such as how to share, resolve conflicts, make decisions, be assertive and learn teamwork through unstructured play.
6. Sufficient sleep
Primary-school children need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night. A few weeks before the school term starts, begin to shift your child’s bedtime gradually so that he will have sufficient sleep through the night and can wake up early for school feeling refreshed. Don’t be surprised if your child comes home from school exhausted, especially in the first few weeks — school is a huge adjustment for children. Let him take a nap in the afternoon to help him recover from the tiring day before starting homework, for instance.