Here are two simple but effective Welly and Bloom Top Tips for warding off cold viruses:
Top Tip No. 1 - Get those viruses off their hands (and yours) - and down the drain!
It sounds so obvious, so un-glamorous, and we all know we should do it to some extent... but it's so easy to forget, and it really is proven(5) to reduce infections...
If viruses love to sneak in on hands, then it makes sense to keep their hands really clean - it will pay to wash them:
Before any activity that involves hands near face - like eating, or water play.
Or after any activity where you could pick one up on your hands - toilet, playing in the garden, crawling around on the floor, coming into the house from the park... after being at school, in busy places like shopping centres/soft-play, and after touching pets.
It sounds intense, but it really works.
Likewise - if you are preparing food but you've just been chucking a load of dirty washing in the machine; if you are about to feed your child (including breastfeeding), or give them medicine, then taking those extra few seconds to wash your hands could make a real difference.
You should also think about washing your hands after preparing food, changing nappies, helping kids on the toilet, cleaning their nose, dealing with cuts or sick kids, cleaning the house, handling or clearing out after pets, and taking the rubbish out(6).
One trick of mine is that I keep a stack of cheeky wipes in a pretty basket on my table that I can just wet, wipe and chuck in the wash - it's so quick, there's no need for soap, just a good rub - and it saves the supper time dramas. You can also keep them in a box with some water and essential oils, which makes them smell lovely!
The key with this one is consistency, it's so easy to make this a standard that slips, and believe me, I know how that feels. The last thing I want to do when I have finally managed to make some food that they have a chance of actually eating, rounded them all up, negotiated who's having which plate, and got them to finally SIT DOWN... is to get them to also wash their hands...
But if it could mean the difference between a week of fevers or not, I'm jolly well going to grit my teeth and do it!
If some pesky blighter that the postman sneezed onto my doorknob wants to take my family out one by one, then he's going down the plughole, my friend.
Thankfully, pretty soon it becomes a habit, and sometimes my kids now refuse to eat until I've wiped their hands, which I'm (mostly) grateful for...
Top Tip No. 2 - Avoid other people's snot.
Let's face it, who would not do that... 'please do go ahead and sneeze in my face'... said no one ever...
Perhaps it would be better to look at it from the other side: Keep your snot to yourself.
If viruses are spread by cough and sneeze droplets getting onto other people, either directly (yuk!) or via things like door handles and shopping trolleys, then it makes sense to make sure those droplets don't get onto those people or places as far as is possible... did you know that sneezes travel at around 100 mph?!
This, of course, means that when you are ill, it's a great chance to relax at home, recuperate in peace and stay in bed til you get better... hang on, that sounds like my daydream. I forgot I was a parent just then...!
In the real world, coughing or sneezing into the crook of your elbow is a great option, as it keeps everything contained but also keeps your hands more germ-free as well. We've noticed that kids find aiming for their elbows surprisingly hilarious as well...
Another great option is finding a hanky that you like (we love these), and washing it when you get home.
If someone in your house has a cold - make sure they have their own cup and towel until they are completely better (4) - these are such easy ways for viruses to spread.
Remember - keeping your droplets to yourself is kindness in action!
Check out our next article to see how your little ones' amazing bodies defend themselves against the virus 'ninjas', and how we can support their bodies in the war effort.
If you have any questions about viruses, then do get in touch, either by email - firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media, we'd love to hear what you think of the article and what you need to know to help your little ones. And if you love it all so far - let your friends know!
In the mean time... happy hand washing!
(1) Mäkelä MJ, Puhakka T, Ruuskanen O, et al. Viruses and bacteria in the etiology of the common cold. J Clin Microbiol 1998;36:539–42
(2) Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence
G. Michael Allan, Bruce Arroll. CMAJ Feb 2014, 186 (3) 190-199; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.121442
(3) Ball TM, Holberg CJ, Aldous MB, et al. Influence of attendance at day care on the common cold from birth through 13 years of age. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2002;156:121–6
(5) Jefferson T, Del Mar CB, Dooley L, Ferroni E, Al‐Ansary LA, Bawazeer GA, van Driel ML, Nair S, Jones MA, Thorning S, Conly JM. Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD006207. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub4.
How to wash hands with running water:
1 - wet hands
2 - scrub hands with soap
(both sides, in between fingers, under fingernails - for 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice...)
3 - rinse under running water
4 - dry with a clean towel
Check out this NHS video
How to wash hands with a cloth (great at the table or for babies):
1 - rinse a clean cloth under water and squeeze away the excess water
2 - wipe all over one hand at a time (one cloth per child - otherwise you risk passing things between them!)
3 - launder the cloth - do not reuse it until it's washed (6)