By Kathy Gribble, Guild Trainer /Assessor
As a parent and carer, we teach our kids to share. Share their toys, share their games – share, share, and share! What we don’t want them to share, is their GERMS! With school going back, it’s a prime time to reinforce some handy tips with our parents and carers in store on how to protect their little ones.
Infections are a normal part of childhood, with most children experiencing at least 6 to 8 respiratory (breathing tract) infections each year. These include colds, ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Infections of the bowels are also common.
When children gather together in child care settings and school, there is the opportunity for infections to spread from one child to another. However, not all infections are contagious. Ear and bladder infections are not spread from child to child, while diarrhoea and colds are easily spread.
What information can we tell our parents and carers in store, to help them teach their little ones how to protect themselves against these germs?
- They should encourage them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or, if a tissue isn’t available, onto their elbow or sleeve.
- They should discourage their children from covering their mouth with their hands while coughing or sneezing because this will leave germs on the hands that can be spread by touching other people or objects. Most often, germs are spread by the hands, not through the air.
- Tell them to throw away tissues immediately after each use.
- They shouldn’t allow their child to share drinking cups, eating utensils, towels, or toothbrushes when they are sick.
Hand washing can stop the spread of infection. The key is to encourage their children to wash their hands throughout the day.
- Before eating (including snacks)
- After a trip to the bathroom
- Whenever they come in from playing outdoors
- After touching an animal like a family pet
- After sneezing or coughing
What products do we have instore that we can recommend to parents and carers to help keep their little ones infection free?
- Keeping their vaccinations and immunisations up to date
- Hand sanitisers and pocket pack of tissues for their school bag
- Immune Boosters e.g. Vitamin C, Zinc and a Probiotic
- Hair bands to tie their hair back to avoid getting head lice
We always have the valuable knowledge of our Pharmacist too. They are available to talk to our customers about any concerns and questions they may have.
What lifestyle tips can we pass onto our parents and carers instore?
Inform our parent and carers how to naturally get essentials nutrients, such as Zinc and Vitamin C into their child’s diet. Zinc is essential for the healthy development and activity of immune cells. Those with a deficiency in zinc are at a much higher risk of developing an infection.
- Cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds combine wonderfully in a trail mix, which is always a favourite for kids.
- Hummus is a popular dip that goes well with crunchy carrot, capsicum and celery sticks.
- Protein e.g. red meat, poultry and seafood make a tasty addition to a sandwich
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for a well-functioning immune system. It is involved in the development, activity and maturation of immune cells. Adding fruit to lunch boxes, either whole or chopped and mixed into a fruit salad is an easy way of increasing Vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits
- Kiwi fruit
Capsicum and green leafy vegetables may seem a little tricky to add to a lunch box, but adding to a sandwich with chicken or ham is a great way of introducing them to lunch time!
Encourage their children to play sports, either as team or as an individual. Research shows that exercise increases the number of natural killer cells in adults and regular activity can benefit kids in the same way. To get their children into a lifelong fitness habit, be a good role model and exercise with them.
Plenty of sleep is also essential. Their child’s body regenerates and renews itself while sleeping. In addition, it is important to include “quiet time” as part of their child’s day, remind parents and carers, quiet time is extremely valuable for them too.