Top Tips to Keep Kids Healthy!
by Dr. Michael Warmoth, Pediatrician, Heal
As a caregiver, figuring out ways to keep kids healthy can be a full-time job. I’ve been a pediatrician for almost 20 years and have seen it all, from minor colds and coughs, to scrapes and broken bones. Pediatricians are your partners in maintaining the health and wellbeing of young ones, so it’s important they have a doctor who’s open and available to building and maintaining a strong relationship.
While you’re waiting for that house call, here are my top ten tips for caregivers who want to keep their kids healthy and happy:
1. Vaccinate kids - You may have heard this so often you’re immune to it, but cases of life-threatening meningitis, bacterial throat closure, and blood infections have plummeted in our recent past due to properly vaccinating children. Measles and polio, which can cause brain damage and paralysis, have nearly been eliminated.
2. Pay attention to the child’s breathing - Cold viruses typically stay in the nose and rarely cause trouble in the lungs. When they do, children breathe rapidly, flare nostrils, and exhibit funny chest and belly movements. If this happens, you need to seek care immediately. If not, relax. You have time to read the next tip.
3. Manage colds conservatively - Infants and toddlers can benefit from sucking snot out of noses if they’re really stuffy. They may benefit from a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier. They also may benefit from vapor rub on their chest. Surprisingly, over the counter cough medicine has never been proven to work in kids. Honey may help with kids’ coughs if they’re older than a year.
4. Use a thermometer to check temperature - Any temperature greater than 100.4 F° or 38° C within the first two months of life is a BIG deal. Take the child to the emergency room if this happens. Fevers that occur after two months of age are not as big a deal, especially if the child is breathing is ok, is alert, and is drinking enough to have a wet mouth and urinate 2-3 times a day. You may have heard of a rare child having seizures with fever, but this is usually due to a genetic tendency and is typically a benign seizure. Ibuprofen and Tylenol are options to keep the child from being uncomfortable, though not imperative to squash fever.
5. Watch out for vomiting then diarrhea - This is how most stomach and intestinal viruses work. As above, alertness and hydration are key! If the child is alert, breathing normally, urinating appropriately, and the stools do not contain blood or mucus, then fluids and a watchful eye are often all that are needed. Seek care immediately if anything stated above does not appear normal.
6. Watch a new baby’s behavior - New babies do some things that would be quite concerning in an older child. They can quiver their chin and have a small hand tremor when they stretch themselves out. They can alternate between breathing quickly and slowly within the same minute. Sneezing and hiccups happen frequently as well and are NOT related to allergies or mistakes you are making while feeding the baby. A bluish hue of the hands, feet, and around the mouth is possible and normal. Blue within the mouth or more centrally on the body needs immediate medical attention.
7. Ear infections are common - They can complicate roughly 10 percent of colds. They can go away on their own but here is a good rule of thumb: treat all infections in kids two years and younger. Treat the ones with significant pain (>48 hours) or fever after that age. Talk with the child’s doctor to help navigate this last option.
8. Treat sore throats correctly - 85 percent of sore throats are viral whereas 15 percent can be due to Group A Beta hemolytic Strep (GABHS). Why the long name? Because the other Strep bacteria don’t require treatment as they are not associated with the rare complications that could result from a GABHS infection, which include problems such as rheumatic fever or kidney disease.
9. Child proof the living space - Preventable injuries are now the leading cause of death in developed countries. Check out this link periodically to help children stay safe!
This article should not be considered medical advice. Neither Nanny Magazine nor Dr. Warmoth assume liability for this content. Please consult your charge's pediatrician or other qualified healthcare provider, with permission from the child's parents or guardians, for professional medical advice.