We are blessed with some sunny days here in Sydney, despite it being the middle of winter. Don’t be fooled though, the cold winds still hover and the bugs abound! A cold is usually not a serious illness in itself, and will generally self-resolve, however it is very infectious. The cold virus is thought to be the most infectious up to day four of your symptoms, which does include the few days before you get obvious symptoms.
During winter children are particularly vulnerable. Children generally have around six to eight colds each year, and they can have as many as twelve a year when they first go to childcare centers or school. Toddlers have very little immunity to cold viruses, they also don’t have a fully developed immune system. Some experts believe that a child’s immune system is not fully developed until they are around puberty and they reach the adult levels of antibody formation. Certainly by that age they would have been in contact with many of the cold viruses and could have a much better resistance.
The tiny toddler, with very little exposure to the 200 plus cold viruses that are in our environment can come down very quickly with cold symptoms of a runny nose and watering eyes, and without much time or warning it can develop into a bronchial cough, very sore throat or ear infection.
Here are some tips to help keep your toddler healthy through our cold winter months.
Keep their diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. I know this can be quite a task for some parents, as the fussy little eaters resist all your best efforts. Keep persisting!
Regular rests and sleep time can help to keep your child well. Getting enough sleep is very important for the body to maintain health. A toddler needs about 12 hours sleep.
You can supplement your toddlers diet with a multi vitamin liquid or powder. Also a wonderful winter support is cod liver oil, good old vitamin C and zinc. You can purchase products that are specifically designed for your toddler or child, with the correct dosage instructions. Help keep the integrity of the gut by giving your toddler a probiotic supplement or some good yoghurt, to keep the friendly bacteria happy!
A good old fashioned rule of thumb keep them out of the cold morning and evening air. Especially for the sporting events (that organisers seem to have on at crazy early hours like 8am in the morning for the tiny tots soccer) where they run around and get warm, or stand there quite cold. Not really a good idea at all for toddlers under 4 years old. They just don’t have the physical coping measures fully developed.
Finally, if your child has had a bad cold or an ear or chest infection, and needed medications from your doctor, do finish the course of antibiotics if your doctor has prescribed them, and keep them indoors out of the cold for the next few weeks. Their immune system will be working hard to rebuild and strengthen again.