Mar 3, 2017

How to prevent cold/cough in children

The season is shifting from cold, cozy winter to bright, warm summer. Summer is special in many ways - mangoes, melons, fresh fruit juices, tender coconut water and more. Along with the rising temperature, this season shift also results in many people falling sick from viral infections, especially children.

I had earlier written about home remedies to try when a child catches cold/cough. In this post, I would like to share a few ways by which you can boost your child’s immunity and prevent cold/cough in the first place. “Prevention is always better than cure”, isn’t it?

1. Reduce milk intake
I hate to say this but children of today’s generation drink way more milk than needed. Milk increases mucus formation (kapha dosha in Ayurveda) and therefore, it is best to reduce the intake. Never substitute proper meals with milk. If your child is not hungry for breakfast, then don’t force him/her to have “atleast” a glass of milk. I will be writing a post shortly on increasing calcium intake in your child without over-dependence on milk.

2. Give whole citrus fruits
Make it a habit to include whole citrus fruits such as orange, sweet lime and strawberries in your child’s diet on a regular basis. Let him/her chew the wedges and take the fibre along with the juice. For very young kids, you can help them by removing the seeds and chopping the wedges into half. Guavas are also rich in Vitamin-C. Chop them into cubes and serve as a snack.

3. Avoid/Reduce packaged juices
Even at the risk of repeating myself over and over, I had to say this - Avoid/reduce packaged foods, especially tetra pack juices. If your child loves to have juice instead of whole fruit, try making the juice at home by yourself. It hardly takes 10 minutes. And you can control the amount of sugar that goes in, along with the fact it is squeezed fresh, without any added preservatives.

4. Reduce sweet treats
I find this to be very challenging with my daughter. Even though we don’t stock up at home, the sweet treats somehow land up through relatives/guests and my little one goes berserk. All children love chocolates/candies/toffees etc but try to consciously cut down the number of pieces your child eats in a day.

5. Include spices
Help your child build up his/her immunity by including our regional spices such as jeera, pepper, turmeric and dhania on a daily basis. As long as the child eats proper, home-cooked Indian food, these spices would automatically find their way without any effort. But if your child’s daily meal plan includes sugar-coated cereals, pancakes, waffles, pizzas and noodles, I’m afraid these spices would reside safely in their jars.

6. Include Vitamin-C rich vegetables
Apart from citrus fruits, make it a habit to include Vitamin-C rich vegetables and greens such as gooseberries, bell peppers, cabbage, tomatoes and coriander leaves on a daily basis. Talk to them about how these vegetables help in “fighting” bad viruses. Make a story about it that will grab their attention. Squeeze a lemon in salads or make lemon rice / lemon sevai for their lunch box. If your child loves tea, make lemon tea with a little ginger and honey. My 5-year old loves it and gives me company in the afternoons when we sit together and sip tea.

Toddlers and pre-schoolers will catch infections multiple times in a year and that would help them build their immunity. So resist the urge to give antibiotics or paracetamol, the moment the child gets a fever. Fever is an indication that the child’s body is fighting the infection. Unless the temperature is above 100F, I usually don’t give paracetamol. Unless my child has an ear infection, her pediatrician doesn’t prescribe antibiotics. I’m not a doctor and so please take this suggestion at your own discretion.

Hope this post is helpful to parents of young children. Let’s welcome summer with a big sunshine smile :-)

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