The Kid's Doctor: Whether we like it or not, viral illnesses are typical this time of year
Viral illnesses are not all bad, as they help a child build resistance. (Fotolia / January 22, 2014)
One thing continues to be true: Young kids do get sick quite often during the toddler years. That means a "normal" toddler may get 7-10 viral infections in a year, with the majority of these occurring during the fall and winter months. Infants who are still being carried don't get sick as often, but once they hit the ground crawling, I can almost guarantee a trip or two to the pediatrician for fever, cough, runny nose and congestion.
By the time a child is walking and is now 12-24 months old, their "germ" load is at its peak. I lovingly call this age group "little germ," while some parents refer to their kids as "petri dishes."
Parents often ask me, "How do I keep my toddler from catching so many illnesses?" One way you keep your child healthy is by immunizing them against all of the diseases you can! Vaccines continue to prevent serious disease and illnesses like meningitis, hepatitis, measles and polio, just to name a few. Vaccines do not protect against the common cold, however, which can be caused by so many different viruses (RSV, rhinovirus, adenovirus).
In truth, in order for your child to get "healthier," they often get sick with many viral illnesses during their toddler years. Everyone has to go through this stage. There is no short cut (like Chutes and Ladders) or detour (Game of Life) offering a way to bypass this phase. By the time your child is 3-4 years old, you'll definitely notice that they don't get sick as often, since they've walked through the valley of illness to emerge on the other side, with antibodies in tow.
The recipe for preventing illness at this time of year includes: healthy meals, a good night's sleep, frequent hand-washing and immunizations, including the flu vaccine. And I promise, this too shall pass. It does every year.
(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid's Doctor e-book, "Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today's Teen," is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.)
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