Habitot Children's Museum

FALL-WINTER HOURS
October 1- March 31
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30

SPRING-SUMMER HOURS
April 1 - September 30
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun

9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30
Private Rentals Only

THIS MONTH'S SPONSOR
State Farm Insurance
Berkeley Agent, Gary Eason
http://garyeason.net/



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Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111
www.habitot.org


Dealing with Cold and Flu Season
Fall is quickly approaching and that means the beginning of cold and flu season. While none of us can completely avoid being exposed to and getting some illnesses in life, for babies and toddlers, there is an upside. A major study by the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that a children exposed to colds and viruses earlier in life will develop stronger immune systems and will be less likely to become sick in their later years. This means fewer school absences for school-aged children and healthier adults.

While babies are born with some of their mothers' immunity to illness (this is known as “innate” immunity), toddlers and children develop “acquired” immunity over time. When an infant puts a toy in her mouth, when a child goes to a playgroup or day care, when riding public transportation or visiting the park (or museum!), children are exposed to microbes giving their immune systems experience fighting off harmful pathogens.

Parents can do a lot to help strengthen their child’s immune system – beginning with breastfeeding as long as possible, providing healthy foods, ensuring children get enough sleep and exercise, and letting them play outside where they can be exposed to many microbes. Some believe that a diet containing “probiotics” like those found in yogurt and other fermented foods can be helpful as well.

Parents should also be cautious about overusing antibiotics (they are not at all helpful against viruses that cause colds and flu) and overusing antibacterial soaps and other household products. There is also evidence that keeping a “too clean” home may prevent children from being exposed to the germs that activate and strengthen the immune system as well as expose them to toxic chemicals in some cleaners.

Although it can be worrisome and exhausting for parents to comfort their babies and toddlers through colds and flu, unless secondary infections develop, it’s best to let them run their course and know that they are helping children build stronger immunity and a foundation for health.

Here are some reminders about dealing with cold and flu season:

  • Practice good health and hygiene. Make sure your child washes her hands after toileting and before meals, eats well, and gets plenty of sleep and exercise. A healthy body is the best defense against harmful viruses.

  • Stay hydrated. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water, and other fluids like milk, soups and herbal teas. Limit sugary drinks including juices and avoid sodas.

  • Teach your child about germs. Teach her to cover her mouth when she coughs or sneezes, preferably with the inside of the elbow to keep germs away from the hands. Make sure she throws away tissues after she using them, and doesn’t hug or kiss people who are sick. Teach him to not rub his eyes or put his fingers in his mouth where mucus membranes are especially receptive to germs.

  • Set a good example. Children are much more likely to eat well and exercise is that is what they see you doing. Share your fruits and vegetables with them and take frequent walks and bike rides together, and soon it will become habit for them.
 
Resources:

Habitot’s website page on dealing with colds and flu in the museum:
www.habitot.org/museum/visit_know_flu_season.html

Training children to build immunity, fight germs.
The Spokesman-Review. 2012. www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/sep/25/sick-of-school/

Childhood: Sick in Day Care May Mean Healthier in School. Roni Caryn Rabin: New York Times. 2010.
www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/health/research/14childhood.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1380404890-c5GUI1UIJaT3iqxw74BFRw/

Which Dirt Should Your Baby Eat? Mapping how bugs and viruses help children develop immunity. Amanda Schaffer. 2013.
www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex_health/2010/03/which_dirt_should_your_baby_eat.html

 
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