With cold and flu season on the horizon, it’s important for parents to know how to keep their children as healthy as possible. The people most at risk for severe flu symptoms include children up to the age of five, and those over 65. Pediatric doctors recommend that parents take special care of younger kids during this time to ensure that they don’t end up severely ill. To help keep your children as healthy as possible, here are five tips you must keep in mind.

1. Provide Healthy Food for the Whole Family

One of the best tips that pediatric doctors recommend is providing healthy meals and snacks for your children. Healthy meals can help improve the immune system and keep your children healthier throughout the cold and flu season. Try to limit junk food and sugary beverages as much as possible, and instead provide plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, and lean meat throughout the week.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

A lack of sleep can negatively impact the immune system, making your children more susceptible to germs. It can also increase stress and make them much crankier. Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health, so make sure to set a reasonable bedtime and have your children stick to it as closely as possible, even on the weekends.

3. Regular Hand Washing

The benefits of hand washing have been emphasized more than ever over these past two years, and it still remains incredibly important for preventing the spread of cold and flu germs. Make sure to teach your children to wash their hands before eating, touching their faces, and when returning from school. Washing for at least 20 seconds can help eliminate germs and keep your whole family much healthier.

4. Teach Healthy Habits

Another tip recommended by pediatric doctors is teaching your children healthy habits such as covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze. This can help reduce the spread of airborne germs and prevent others from getting sick. Preferably, you should teach your child to cover their cough with their elbows, to prevent them from spreading germs from touch if they cough on their hands.

5. Teach Them School Safety

School is one of the easiest places for germs to spread during the cold and flu season, and because of this it is important to teach your children how to stay safe while at school. Make sure to teach them not to touch their face, share food or drinks, or put things in their mouths. If allowed, you may want to have them bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer along with them to ensure that they can frequently clean their hands to minimize the chance of illness.

Keeping your children healthy this cold and flu season doesn’t have to be an uphill battle, and by keeping these five tips in mind you can help minimize their risks and ensure that they stay as healthy as possible.