Tips to keep your child healthy and strong this winter
The winter season can be a lot of fun for our kids. In India, it is also a season of festivities with several opportunities for celebration and enjoyment. However, parents should note that winters can also be especially harsh on our little ones. We need to take extra precautions to protect children from the numerous risks of the winter season.
In the following sections, Dr Shreya Dubey, top paediatrician in Gurgaon shares a few guidelines for keeping your children safe and healthy this season.
The ideal room temperature
During winters, we tend to spend more time indoors as compared to summers. With the use of artificial heating devices, we now have the ability to control the temperature inside our homes, up to a large extent. But this option raises the question: What is the ideal indoor temperature? This query does not have one fixed answer.
The room temperature should be comfortable for the child. Maintain an ambient temperature which is neither too cold nor too hot.
If your child is too young (less than 18 months of age) to communicate his or her discomfort, you can gauge if they are feeling cold by touching their hands and feet. If these body parts feel chilly, it implies that your baby is also feeling cold. In this case, you can increase the room temperature.
The ideal layers of clothing
We all know the importance of layers (of winter wear) in this season. But is there such a thing as too many layers?
The rule of thumb while deciding the number of layers is to “add one” to the number you are wearing.
You should also ensure that excessive clothing is not there. Winter wear which is largely made of wool can be quite abrasive on the skin. Making your child wear too many surfaces of woollen clothing has its own risks like skin rashes and eczema. The odds of children getting affected by these risks are higher as their skin is comparatively more sensitive than that of adults.
You can place a layer of cotton between skin and wool. This small step can avoid prolonged skin contact with wool and help prevent skin conditions such as rashes and eczema.
When going outside ensure that the hands and feet of your children are covered with socks and gloves.
Studies indicate that the body loses maximum heat from the head, sometimes up to 30%. The child’s head should also be covered with the appropriate headgear. For younger children, you can choose monkey caps that offer protection to the ears as well.
During sleep, make sure that you don’t use a blanket that is too heavy, especially if they are sleeping alone. Usage of weighted blankets during sleep is dangerous for children.
Focus on cleanliness
The chances of getting infections are higher during the winter season. You should focus on cleanliness and sanitation to stay safe. Ensure to wash your child’s clothes including woollens regularly to avoid risks of asthma and eczema.
Use of heaters
The optimal room temperature during winter is 22-18 degrees. Most Indian households use heaters during this season. You should take care of the following points while using heaters:
- Artificial heaters increase the humidity inside the room. In case you are using one such heater, you can also install a humidifier to prevent excessive dryness. If you don’t have a humidifier available, you can place a small dish of water near the vent to maintain the humidity of the room.
- You should practice the necessary precautions to maintain your child’s safety near heating appliances such as keeping it out of reach.
- It is also recommended to avoid using heaters overnight. There is a risk that the room may overheat. This would further cause the nasal passage of your child to dry.
You can give your child a bath every day if the weather is not too cold. However, if you feel the temperature is too low, you can reduce the frequency of bathing your child to 2-3 times a week (once a week for head wash).
The days that your child skips bathing, you can clean them using a damp sponge. Make sure to properly clean the creases such as armpits, elbows, knees, groin etc. to prevent skin infections and eczema.
Moisturising and oiling instructions
Since the winter season leads to excessive dryness, you should make certain to properly moisturise your child. You can use any type of moisturiser. Nonetheless, if your child has sensitive skin, you should consult your dermatologist for their opinion.
You can use olive oil, mustard oil or almond oil during winters. Coconut oil is not considered the best option for this season as it can escalate skin dryness, making it more suitable for the summer season.
If your child is younger than 2 months, do not use mustard oil. The pungent smell of the mustard oil can cause irritation in the nose and eyes of the baby.
If your kid’s lips are chapped, you can use either petroleum jelly or milk cream. Avoid using anything on the lips in case your little one is younger than 4 months.
Remember not to put too many products on your children as their skin is extra sensitive.
Diet and hydration
There are no specific dietary guidelines or superfoods for winters. You should feed your children healthy home-cooked food only.
You can add food items that offer additional warmth. These include whole grains, wheat, rice, oats, lentils, fruits, green leafy vegetables and more. You can choose beetroots, carrots, and items rich in Vitamin C.
Dry fruits are also great for nutritional value during winters. You can also feed your child small amounts of species like garlic.
For infants younger than six months, you can maintain the hydration by breastfeeding or formula milk.
You can increase the intake of warm fluids such as soups for older children.
As winter approaches, the incidences of eczema, asthma and other infections also increase. You should practice basic hygiene and follow these steps to check that your child is safe:
- Ask your children to wash their hands especially before and after meals and using restrooms
- Give them hand sanitizer if water and soap are not available
- Take care of your own health and hygiene
- Wash and clean clothes regularly
- Make sure that your child’s vaccinations are done on schedule
Watch the video to learn more about how to keep your children healthy during winters.
For more information or personal guidance, book an appointment with Dr Shreya Dubey Paediatrician and neonatologist at the CK Birla Hospital Gurgaon.