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Navigating Back-to-School: A Pediatrician's Guide to Illness Avoidance

The back-to-school season is an exciting time for both children and parents, but it also brings along the inevitable challenge of dealing with germs and illnesses that can spread rapidly in school settings. As a pediatrician, I understand the concerns that parents have about their children's health during this time. In this blog, I'll share some practical tips and strategies to help your family navigate the back-to-school season while minimizing the risk of germ exposure and keeping your child's health a top priority.

1. Hand Hygiene - The First Line of Defense:

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs is proper hand hygiene. Teach your child the importance of washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing or sneezing, or water fountain use. Encourage them to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with them for situations where soap and water are not readily available.

2. Coughing and Sneezing Etiquette:

In schools, germs can easily spread through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. Teach your child to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their elbow (not their hands) when they cough or sneeze. This simple habit can significantly reduce the risk of spreading illnesses.

3. Nutritious Diet and Hydration:

A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and meat can help support your child's immune system. Encourage your child to make healthy food choices and stay hydrated throughout the day. A strong immune system is better equipped to fend off germs and infections.

4. Proper Sleep:

Adequate sleep is essential for your child's overall health and immune function. Establish a consistent sleep routine that ensures your child gets the recommended amount of sleep for their age. A well-rested body is better prepared to fight off illnesses. See my blog post on sleep to see how much your child needs

5. Disinfecting and Cleaning:

Frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, and desks can harbor germs. Regularly disinfect these surfaces at home and encourage your child's school to do the same. Also, remind your child to avoid sharing personal items like water bottles, utensils, and electronic devices.

6. Stay Home When Sick:

If your child is feeling unwell, it's important to keep them home from school to prevent the spread of illness to classmates and teachers. Similarly, teach your child that it's courteous to avoid close contact with others when they are sick. This can be hard, especially when they first start school, because it can seem like they alway have something. But, please do your part and keep your children home when they are sick.

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