We all look forward to a time of frolic when the summer arrives. All parents wish fervently that our children don’t fall sick, as we have a host of exciting activities for exploration and travel lined up. Here are some suggestions to keep children in good health this summer.
The most important aspects are handling travel and outdoor play. Ensure that your little ones are well hydrated and that they wear light clothes. All children over six months of age spending time out in the sun should wear at least 30 SPF-rated sunscreen to prevent skin damage. Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before going in the sun and reapplied every three hours. Bring on hats, caps, umbrellas and sunglasses. It is better that outdoor activities are scheduled before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. when the sun is not at its strongest. While starting a new exercise regimen or beginning a new sport, or if you travel to a hotter destination, the intensity and duration of outdoor activities should start at a low level and then gradually increase over a week to acclimatize the child’s body to the heat and humidity.
Children should drink fluids continuously and not wait until they feel thirsty. It is advisable to take a break to drink water every 20 minutes while doing activities outdoors.
When children go swimming, make sure the water in the pool is clean. Do not let children use the pool if they have a cold or stomach infection. Whenever children are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and resuscitate – should be within arm’s length. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Take kids on bathroom breaks often and change swim diapers often (not at the poolside). Instruct children to avoid swallowing or getting water in their mouths and also keep the water clean by showering before entering the pool. After swimming, you can dry children’s ears with a cloth, tilting the head either way to drain water from the ears. This can help prevent swimmer’s ear (ear infection due to trapped water in the ear canal).
Remember the sun can heat a metal slide or monkey-bars in a playground making them hot enough to burn the skin, and it happens very quickly – so it’s good to be cautious. Outdoor play also puts children at risk of insect bites and bruises. It’s always better to keep a first aid box at home with bandages, antiseptics and skin soothing medications. Give your child an anti-inflammatory medication (that can be purchased over the counter) to ease the pain and itching. Apply topical moisturizing cream to rehydrate the skin and treat itching.
Summer is also the time for treats.While your kids have their favourite snacks, use it as an opportunity to learn healthy ways to make them and teach your children to share, especially sweet and fatty foods – so everyone gets a taste, but no one overeats. Remind children to wash their hands well and often.
Before you travel outside your city, it pays to do some research to find a hospital or medical care facility closest to your destination, especially if your child has a chronic health condition. Some children suffer travel (or motion) sickness. This occurs due to a conflict between the eye and ear: The inner ears detect movement, but the eyes do not. These mixed signals coming into the brain can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, paleness, and cold sweats. So have children eat a light meal or snack before leaving as motion sickness seems worse on an empty stomach. Try to avoid eating during short trips and on longer trips, sip drinks and eat light, small meals and snacks. Encourage children to look outside but focus on still objects — not moving ones (like other cars) — or a distant point to feel better. Keep the window open a little to allow fresh air to circulate and a headrest to minimize head movement. If your child complains of feeling sick and it’s safe to stop, a short walk for some fresh air will help.