Winter hits Australia in June but you can probably feel the chill already. With the threat of the coronavirus hovering over our heads and the flu season approaching, what can you do to keep your children safe and healthy? Here are 5 smart ways to get you ready for the colder months.
1. Stay warm
‘Catching a cold’ is not a fallacy. You may not literally ‘catch a cold’ from the cold air but the lower temperature can suppress your immune system. Viruses also seem to spread more easily in the cold weather compared to the warmer months.
When the temperature drops, it’s important to dress appropriately. Many parents opt for the layering technique: dressing your child in layers so you can scale up or scale down, depending on the volatile Melbourne weather. Remember to make sure they also have a good jacket, beanie and covered shoes.
At Red Apple, the children will continue to play outdoors in winter so they can get their daily dose of fresh air and Vitamin D. There is a chance that their clothes may get wet or muddy so make sure you pack an extra change of clothes. If your child is walking, you can also throw in a pair of gumboots – great for playing in puddles.
2. Get the flu jab
With the threat of the coronavirus surrounding us, it has become more important than ever for families to get the flu vaccination. You don’t want to get the flu and be exposed to the coronavirus at the same time.
The Victorian Department of Health recommends that all adults and children get the flu jab in April. If you haven’t already, make an appointment with your local GP or pharmacy. The flu jab is free for all children under 5 years old. Children can get the flu jab after they turn six months old.
3. Boost up on fruits and veggies
Winter is a great time for warm, comfort food like casseroles and curries, not to mention our Red Apple pumpkin soup. Packed with carotene and zinc, pumpkin soup is a delicious way to boost your immune system. Here are some other immunity-boosting ingredients to include in your meals this winter:
- Garlic: The allicin in garlic helps fight bacteria and infection
- Beef: Contains zinc which is important for producing white blood cells
- Spinach: Contains Vitamin C and E to support the immune system
- Citrus fruits: Oranges, strawberries and kiwis are packed with Vitamin C
- Yoghurt: Contains prebiotics to keep the digestive system free from germs
4. Get your indoor temperature right
When it comes to the indoor temperature, we want to get the heating just right. Too cold, and your child may be uncomfortable through the night. Too hot and your child might have trouble falling asleep.
In Australia, we are fortunate that our winters are not that severe. So you don’t need to keep the heater running the whole night. You could have the heater come on intermittently and keep the room at a comfortable minimum temperature.
For babies and children, a safe sleeping environment is generally between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. You can keep heating within this range but remember, for every extra degree of heating, your heating costs go up by about 10%.
Many Australians set their heaters on timers that go off after a certain time at night. On nights that are colder than 18 degrees, you can just put an additional blanket over your child.
How can you tell if your child is cold? Many parents make the mistake of thinking their child is cold when their hands or feet are cold. But limbs are not the best indicator of how cold your child is. Fingers and feet can feel cold even when your baby’s body temperature is perfect. The best way to check whether your child is too hot or too cold is to feel their stomach or back.
5. Make time for the outdoors
The cold weather may make you want to curl up on the couch and do not much else. But it’s important to get outdoors. Getting exercise is just as important in winter as it is in any other season, if not more.
We tend to spend a lot more time indoors during winter, whether it’s at work or kinder or at home. This prolonged contact with other people in a contained space (and artificially heated environment) can increase our exposure to colds and germs.
Getting outside is a good way to get some fresh, clean air. Isolation rules may rule out your normal winter activities such as tobogganing or soccer but you can still get some outdoor time with the family.
Go for a bike ride, do some gardening or go for a walk. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad dressing!