6 Ways to Reduce Illness in Your Children This Winter (Archived Pedcast)



It’s getting cold outside and the little ones are starting to get sick at an alarming rate. I thought it might be timely to pass on some tips I have learned about how to keep your little Janie or Johnny from getting sick during the long winter ahead. Speaking to that point, I recently found an article in Parents Magazine by Michelle Crouch, about how to avoid winter sickness in your children. So, today, I thought I might review the 6 steps that the author of this Parent’s Magazine recommended and add a little Doc Smo wisdom to her article.

Musical Introduction

6 Steps to Reducing Illness in Your Children This Winter

Recommendation #1- Teach and remind your children to wash their hands before eating, and after being at school or other activities with other children. They stressed that washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds is the best way to make sure those little fingers aren’t harboring colds and flu. Hand gels will also do but I prefer good old soap. I also recommend to my patients that they avoid indoor play dates with other children if at all possible. Your children are very unlikely to touch the same rock or stick outdoors, thereby spreading illness but indoors… sharing germs is a given…especially if they eat together.

Recommendation #2– Insist that your children spend as much time as possible outdoors. I totally agree. Being outside doesn’t make us sick, in fact it does the opposite, it keeps us healthy. Your child’s vitamin D levels go up, they acclimatize to cooler weather, and I believe your child’s immune system get jazzed up for the winter. If your child has a fever or is already sick on the other hand, exposure to extremes to weather can make them sicker. I think you need to understand that distinction.

Recommendation #3– Make sure your child gets enough sleep. I totally agree with this one as well. Additionally, Doc Smo thinks this is one reason that each child should have their own bed and not sleep in groups if possible… sharing secretions on the same bedding is a great way to make a bunch of children and parents sick. I see children regularly who share the flu or strep throat that, I am pretty sure, shared that germ sleeping in the same bed with a brother, sister, or friend.

Recommendation #4– Try and teach your children not to touch their face, mouth, or nose. The author admits, this is hard to do but I think there is probably a better strategy. If everyone taught their kids to cough and sneeze into their elbow instead of their hands, give the Doc Smo “no flu fista” or the “elbowla” when greeting others, then a child’s simple facial touch wouldn’t be as likely to make them sick since most of their germs would be on their elbow.

Recommendation #5– Eat a healthy diet, rich in foods that have vitamin C like broccoli and citric fruit, eating fish and dairy that have vitamin D, and yogurt for it’s probiotic effect. Doc Smo recommends these things but giving a child extra Vitamin D with a supplement in the winter and upping the amount of probiotic to supplement levels with a commercial probiotic… can really help keep them well.

Recommendation #6– Get a flu shot for your child. It’s true, getting you’re child is the single best way to reduce their chance of getting a serious illness like the flu… on average, a 50% reduction in their chance of getting flu. Keeping your children from getting sick is vital since  ill children can make the rest of us sick and if that someone is Grandma or Grandpa. That means serious trouble. Take it from Doc Smo, get your children a flu shot.


Well, that’s it for this pedcast… a great reminder from Parent’s magazine about avoiding sickness in the winter with a few editions from Doc Smo. I hope you found that useful and helpful. Thanks for listening and helping to make DocSmo.com, one of the most successful pediatric blogs out there. I am excited to announce that my new website is about to be unveiled with lots of new features for you to enjoy… and…, Doc Smo’s first book, titled Can Doesn’t mean Should, is now in production and should be available by February 2015. More on that soon. This is Doc Smo, hoping this winter is a real breeze, without your children ever having even a sneeze. Until next time.