Simple ways to help keep kids healthy during the holidays

It’s December and the holiday season is in full swing, which also means a greater chance of catching an illness at airports, malls and more. During this busy time of year, many public locations can become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria that can result in the common cold, influenza and other common illnesses. Unfortunately, children’s immune systems are especially susceptible.

It’s not always practical to avoid travel, gift shopping and holiday events in order to avoid getting sick, but there are a number extra steps parents can take to keep children healthy during the holiday hustle.

Take extra steps to stay germ-free

Don’t be shy to break out the hand sanitizer. High volumes of people increase the potential spread of bacteria and illnesses. While holiday shopping, many people touch items and put them back, potentially spreading germs.

Making a habit of having your child wash their hands before eating meals and snacks is especially important this time of year. Parents can also purchase sanitize wipes as back-up for times when there is not a restroom nearby.

Keep children dressed appropriately

While Arizona temperatures are not quite North Pole status, a chill in the air is to be expected and prepared for. Depending on the day or night, children should wear temperature-appropriate clothes like layers including long sleeve shirts, jackets and pants. As parents may take children to outdoor holiday events, especially at night, it’s important that children dressed appropriately.

Before traveling, research the weather. Whether taking a road trip to Northern Arizona or flying to frigid Chicago or New York City, be sure your child has the right clothes to keep them dry and warm. Depending on the travel destination, waterproof clothing items and shoes may be worth an investment.

Teach children to avoid germs

Use everyday moments as teaching opportunities to build habits that can help prevent illness. Teach children to avoid putting fingers near their mouth, nose and eyes. Have children sneeze or cough into a tissue or their elbow, rather than into their hands. While visiting public areas that have escalator and stairs, ask children to hold hands with an adult rather than grab a railing.

Explain the benefits of washing hands to children, and why they should not share utensils or food with other children at childcare and school. Help children quit habits like thumb-sucking and nail biting. Teaching proper hygiene practices and building a health-conscious mindset can make a big difference.

Avoid overdoing treats and goodies

Sugary cookies and treats should be given to young children in moderation. Eating healthy and physical activity will help keep kids’ immune systems healthy and functioning properly.  A combination of holiday treat overload and lack of fruits and vegetables could lead a child be more susceptible to illnesses.

Be prepared to keep your child healthy and well-fed during during holiday shopping, travel and parties by keeping healthy snacks handy. A few minutes of planning and prep time could save a weeks worth of illness later on. Be sure to continue packing your child healthy lunches for school and other daily activities. Load them up on fruits and vegetable high in vitamin C and other essential nutrients.


All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.