Parents’ Tool Kit for Fall and Winter

By Heidi J. Weinroth, MD
Cooper Pediatrics at Moorestown

Winter family fun

By now, everyone has settled into their school time routine. Although it was sad to see the lazy days of summer end, it’s nice to be back into a regular schedule of school and activities. Now that kids are back to school, there is a greater chance of illness, mostly due to the close quarters that a classroom provides. To better prepare for the common illnesses that will come your way, below are recommended survival tips to help you face Old Man Winter!

Humidifier. A humidifier will help keep respiratory passages moist so they don’t dry out. Dryness contributes to nose bleeds, dry skin and nasal passages, and chapped lips that encourage viral infections. A humidifier unit that can be added to your household heating system will work best. If this is not possible, place one in your child’s bedroom. This is an ideal space, as your child will (hopefully) spend 10 hours of his/her day sleeping. Humidifiers should be properly maintained to prevent mold buildup.

Soft tissues. Nose blowing is an important skill that can be taught to most kids as they reach 3 years of age. Soft tissues will help prevent irritation to their skin. For infants, there are great nasal aspirators that can assist you in “sucking” out the mucus.

Saline nasal spray. Like a humidifier, nasal spray will help keep your child’s nasal passages moist. Spraying with saline can also help to encourage nose blowing and assist in clearing any dried mucus for better breathing and sleep. Many families use a Neti Pot™ or a saline-rinse device to keep nasal passages free of mucus. Saline spray comes in some very nice child-friendly devices that can make it easier to use.

Ibuprofen. This is an invaluable medication for fevers and pain, and works for six- to eight- hours. One dose given an hour before bedtime should help get your child to sleep comfortably through an earache or sore throat until your pediatric office opens in the morning. Ask your pediatrician for an easy-to-use dosing chart. Also check to be sure you have a measuring device that will make it easy to accurately measure and dispense medicine into your child’s mouth.

Lip balm. Chilly weather encourages lip licking, which results in cracked lips. Apply lip moisturizer at night and keep one in the backpack during school hours.

Skin Moisturizer. Children develop dry and cracked skin once the heat is turned on. This dryness can encourage scratching that can lead to skin infections. Regular application of moisturizers after showering will help eliminate the dry/itch cycle.

Flu shot. This is your best chance of protecting yourself from the virus that causes the flu. The vaccine can help reduce your chance of getting the flu by 60 percent. All children, but especially those under 5 years old and those with underlying medical conditions, are strongly urged to get the vaccine. Contrary to popular myth, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu. On rare occasions, patients may experience some mild fever or achiness that may resemble the flu. This is from an immune reaction and not from a flu infection.

Here’s hoping that your fall and winter seasons will be healthy ones. These tips will help you to prepare yourself and your kids for what comes your way.

To make an appointment at Cooper Pediatrics at Moorestown, please call 1.800.8.COOPER (1.800.826.6737) or visit appointments.cooperhealth.edu.

Read more about Dr. Heidi Weinroth here.

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