December 2, 2021

Protecting your child from the cold. Good old home remedies, not so good after all

Winter is on the way, along with its share of colds and sore throats. When we feel a “cold snap” approaching, we tend to take out the big guns to protect our little ones, with typical strategies of vitamin C, hot chocolate, big woolly jumpers, and turning the heating up to the max. However, it may turn out that these “good old home remedies” aren’t so good after all. Here are 6 common mistakes to avoid when fighting the cold.

Child with cap playing outside with dead leaves

Not going outside

In the middle of winter, it is tempting to keep your child indoors where it’s warm to prevent them from catching cold and getting ill. However, often the opposite happens! It is in confined, overheated and poorly ventilated interiors that viruses circulate and spread best. Most of the time, children fall ill through close contact with people who are sick. So, there is no reason to deprive them of fun in the snow, as long as they are well wrapped up!

Eating fatty foods

Long winter evenings often go hand in hand with heavy/ stodgy foods. It is a long-held belief that our bodies need to take in more fat to face the winter. However, children today lead more inactive lifestyles. As a result,   feeding them too much fatty food means giving them extra calories that they will not burn off; this could slow down their metabolism, which could increase the risk of becoming over weight! The desire to eat more fat is often linked to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, which a growing child’s immune system needs even more in winter. So replacing stodgy foods with vegetable soups and snacks containing dried seasonal fruit, but don’t forget the slow-release carbohydrates that are essential for energy!

Overdoing the vitamin supplements

A great late-autumn classic that few children escape is the traditional course of vitamin C! However, such treatments by themselves have no preventive, let alone remedial qualities.  Only a vitamin deficiency justifies supplements. The body does not know what to do with “excess” vitamins, so it will not absorb them. The term “dietary supplement” is self-explanatory: it is supposed to “supplement” elements that are lacking in an unbalanced diet. A healthy diet, rich in fruit and vegetables will meet all your child’s vitamin needs. As the holidays approach, satsumas are an excellent source of vitamin C… and children love them!

Overheating the house

Worse than the cold, there is… “hot and cold”! Sudden changes in temperature are what put the body to the test the most. , So resist the temptation to overheat the house, otherwise your child will be at higher risk when he goes outside. It is best to maintain a relatively constant temperature of around 19-20°C in all rooms. If it’s 25°C in the living room and 16°C in the bedroom, or even in the hallway, your child could well catch a cold just by staying at home!

Going for  that  good old woolly jumper

As soon as winter approaches, we dig our woolly jumpers out of the wardrobe. Yes, they are lovely and warm, but don’t be deceived: it’s not the thickness of the jumper that counts. Three thin layers are more effective against the cold than one thick jumper, because the air between the layers acts as a thermal insulator. In addition, friction between the different materials will increase the heat produced. Whilst outdoors, don’t forget that a heavy-knit jumper does not protect your child when it’s wet and windy!

Wearing too many layers

Going too far, putting on to many layers, that is no better. Wrapping your little one up like an onion is counterproductive. A small child is often more energetic than an adult and therefore doesn’t get as cold. If your child complains that they are too hot, listen!  If your child is wrapped up too much, sweating starts and when the child stops moving about, with the damp or wet clothes, the body becomes cold, which is not good!  . When it comes to underwear, choose materials designed to draw moisture away from the skin, and be careful of sudden temperature fluctuations.

Lastly, when outdoors, even the best coat is worthless if you forget the extremities! Take care to cover your child’s head, ears, neck, hands, and feet: this is where we lose most of our body heat.

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