Sam Flatman, Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport, shares his top tips on preventing children from feeling under the weather this winter.
Winter can be a tough time of the year when it comes to keeping children healthy. Colds, coughs and sniffles are rife in schools and playgroups, but the change in weather doesn’t mean we should stop our children from running around outside! With a little bit more preparation on our part, we can make sure our children are having fun in winter without compromising their health. Here’s how:
1. Let them enjoy the outdoors
When we feel that chill in the air, we naturally want to keep our children warm inside to keep them safe. But contrary to popular belief, cold weather doesn’t cause colds. Children catch colds when they stay indoors in poorly ventilated spaces. When lots of people are in the same indoor space, such as a classroom, the same air is churned around and around. Germs, viruses and bacteria can easily spread in this kind of environment. A much better option is to get children running around outdoors, breathing in fresh air. This will work to strengthen their immune system and keep them healthy too, just so long as they are also kept hydrated.
2. Don’t forget to exercise
Winter time can be a great excuse for our tech-savvy children to whip out their iPads, slouch on the sofa and spend the whole day engrossed in Candy Crush Saga. Of course, all us parents know that too much screen time isn’t healthy for anyone, and it’s even been linked to feelings of anxiety and depression. Our bodies are made to be active, so don’t forget about exercise this season. Going on a winter walk, collecting conkers or building a snowman are all great ways to stay active during the colder months.
3. Wrap up warm
When we send our little ones off to school or out to play, it’s important to make sure that they’re warm enough. Layering clothes is a great way to achieve this, especially as when they get into the classroom they will need a few less layers than they do outside. Opting for wool instead of cotton is a smart choice as this insulates and stays drier and warmer than cotton. Remember not to wrap children up too tight though. Clothes shouldn’t restrict movement so it’s essential that they fit properly. Pay special attention to footwear as tight boots can restrict blood circulation – and sometimes there needs to be room for an extra pair of socks!
4. Keep hydrated
Keeping hydrated is something that we always think of when it’s hot, but can often be overlooked when the weather is cool. It’s true that children are sweating much less than in the summer months, but staying hydrated is still really important. Juices with vitamin C, such as orange juice, can help to reduce the duration of colds a little, and keep the body in good health. Choose warm water instead of cold water as this can decrease chances of infections and bacteria entering the body.
5. Encourage frequent hand washing
Though regularly washing your hands with soap is a good thing to encourage all year round, in winter you’re 80% more likely to catch a cold because you are more likely to stay inside in close contact of others for longer. Washing your hands will remove germs and prevent them from spreading. Teach children to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Remember to make sure they know to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before and after eating, and if they sneeze. It’s also a good idea to get children to sneeze and cough into their elbows instead of their hands, or into a tissue if they have a clean one spare.
Winter can be a difficult time when it comes to keeping children healthy, but if you follow these five tips they’re much more likely to avoid nasty colds this season. Do you have any other tips or tricks for keeping children in good health when the cold weather rolls around?
About the author
Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 5000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students. He has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the new school curriculum. He is currently based in Bristol with his two sons.