8 effective ways to dodge Back to School bugs

The start of the winter term means that your child is at risk of catching one of the many ‘back to school bugs’, with nurseries and schools being a hotbed for germs and viruses.

But there are a few simple steps you can take to safeguard your child against catching every sniffle and bug doing the rounds.

1. Make hand washing a daily routine

The easiest way to ward off germs and bugs is to get your child to wash their hands often in hot soapy water. Make washing hands part of your child’s routine and remind them to wash them after using the toilet, before they eat their school lunch, after using shared equipment (such as the classroom computer) and as soon as they get home from school. Use warm water and wash hands for 20 seconds at least (the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice).

2. Keep hands away from eyes, noses and mouth

Hands pick up germs easily and if your child then touches their eyes, nose or mouth they could be putting germs on a fast track to making them sick. Teach your child to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth and, again, to always wash their hands.

3. Spend time in the great outdoors

As well as being a great way to burn off energy and being a boost for mental health spending plenty of time outdoors can also help your child keep healthy and swerve catching any bugs that are going round the class. A recent study found that people who exercise regularly get fewer colds (and shorter illnesses) then those that are less active. Whether you build a walk to school or a run around after school into your day, getting a daily dose of fresh air will boost your child’s immunity.

4. Make sure they have a healthy diet

Foods packed with plenty of vitamin C can help to ward off a cold and shorten its length. A simple way to make sure your child is getting a healthy diet to boost their immune system is to  ‘eat the rainbow’ – with plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables.

5. It’s not ALWAYS so good to share

Parents have been teaching children that it is good to share from a very early age but when it comes to preventing bugs it is not a good idea. Remind your child not to share water bottles or cartons of juice at lunchtime and not to share tissues or hairbrushes or towels after swimming or P.E. lesson. The less they share the less chance there is of germs being passed on.

6. Teach your child to sneeze into their elbows

Children often cover their mouths with their hands when they cough or sneeze but then germs can be easily passed on when they touch another chid or a surface in the classroom. Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a clean tissue and immediately throw it in the bin. Of course, often they won’t have a tissue handy so teach them to cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow instead.

7. Make sure your child goes to bed on time

Sleep helps little bodies recharge and a lack of sleep can affect the immune system. When children don’t get enough sleep they may be more prone to getting ill when exposed to a virus. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that school children get ten hours sleep each night. So make sure they are tucked up in bed nice and early.

8. Keep your child off school if they get sick

Despite your best efforts your child might pick up a cold or Back to School bug. If they do get ill then (unless it’s just a minor sniffle and they are otherwise well) make sure you keep them off school and away from the classroom until they are completely better.