As much as I celebrate the return of fall and pumpkin spice lattes, it’s hard to forget the boogers and stomach bugs that reappear this time of year, too. With two toddlers and a preschooler, one little bug can knock us out for days as it makes its way around our family of five.
To combat this, I created a list of mom hacks for cold and flu season.
Please keep in mind that this is what we’ve found to be helpful for our family. I am not a medical doctor and this is not intended as medical advice. If you have any doubts or concerns, please check with your healthcare provider.
When our son started preschool last year, we wondered if he’d get sick more frequently. Our friends who had kids in daycare or school warned us to get ready because their kids seemed to always be sick! We hoped our kids were born with iron-clad immune systems so they’d never get sick, but this fantasy is far from reality. Two weeks into preschool, he had already brought home boogers and diarrhea. A friend told me to expect 8-12 colds in the first year of daycare or preschool. By month three, all five of us seemed to be coughing and blowing our noses pretty regularly. And let me tell you… taking care of sick one-year-old twins throughout the night is not for the faint of heart!
I needed a plan. I needed to make my own mom hacks for cold and flu season. And while I’m an educated woman with two college degrees (the latter in healthcare), my brain felt like a pile of oatmeal after weeks of bad sleep and whiny kids.
I believe that colds and flus are natural parts of life. My goal is to help my kids build strong immune systems so they’re able to fight the bugs as quickly and efficiently as possible. The less they’re sick, the less school they’ll have to miss, and the less my husband and I will have to worry about finding childcare for our sick kids when we have to work.
My mom hacks for cold and flu season (drumroll, please) actually WORK! I’m a happy mom once again. The sickness still makes its way into our home, but it leaves so much faster.
Ever hear the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” We eat plenty of healthy food in our family but we’re also human and enjoy Oreos and Doritos occasionally, too. With the amount of toxins in our environment these days (pesticides, harmful cleaning products, *ahem* eating Oreos and Doritos…) it’s important to supplement our diet each day with high-quality vitamins and minerals to help our immune system stay strong. We give our kids a liquid multivitamin and multimineral (like this one) each night after dinner. It’s so easy to measure and give to them using a syringe (like the one that comes with Infant Tylenol) or buy in gummy form for our older kiddo.
It’s not just the Doritos’ fault that our immune systems can weaken. Stress is a major culprit in lowering our ability to fight sickness. For us moms, it’s easy to make a list of what’s stressing us out! But what does stress look like for our kids? For our family, it looked like not enough rest time because our sleep schedule had loosened a bit too much.
We decided to put everyone to bed a half hour earlier and lengthen nap times.
This meant a 6:30 PM bedtime for all three littles, consistent 9 AM and 2 PM nap times for our one-year-old girls, and 1 PM rest time for our preschooler. He doesn’t always sleep but is old enough to spend a quiet hour alone in his room with books and toys. I believe this consistent rest schedule decreases stress in their little bodies, helping to boost their immune systems. (Also, more free time for me… yay!)
Double Up Bed Sheets
I love this one! This is especially great for babies since they (typically) don’t sleep on a pillow and their cheeks lay directly on their bed sheets. There are a million different body fluids that can come out of a sick kid… and they’re all ooey/gooey (think sweat, vomit, and mucous). Therefore, their sheets absorb all of that mess and require frequent changing. To save time, a friend of mine told me to simply double up. I make their beds with a liner and sheet, then repeat with another liner and sheet directly on top. This is especially great for quick, middle-of-the-night changes.
BRAT Diet and Probiotics
When a stomach bug hits your family, it’s not pretty. My mom hack for tummy bugs includes the acronym BRAT and taking probiotics. There is some research that recommends these practices and some that claims they’re ineffective. Here is what I have found: they rock!
The acronym BRAT helps us remember that Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast are great foods to feed our kids when they have a stomachache, diarrhea, or nausea. Giving them high-quality probiotics (like these) can be helpful as a daily practice or just while they’re sick. If they have to take a prescription antibiotic, it can be helpful for their gut to also take a probiotic (a few hours after). 70% of our immune system is located in our gut so by keeping it healthy, we’re better equipped to fight off sickness.
Chiropractic adjustments are my favorite mom hack for cold and flu season! In our family, we all get our adjustments monthly, since my husband and I are both chiropractors and value spinal health. But when we’re sick, we try to do a little more. After almost 10 years in practice, we’ve heard countless times how much healthier our patients are while under chiropractic care. The internet loves to rip this up and it’s so unfortunate! Research shows the connection between spinal nerves and immune system function. It all comes down to lessening stress in the body, which helps people fight sickness more effectively.
Water Bottles Everywhere
To keep our little ones hydrated while they’re sick, we flood our house with water bottles! It doesn’t matter if the bottles are cheap or expensive, as long as they’re safe and age-appropriate. We fill a bunch of them up with fresh water and leave them all over the place: the living room, the playroom, their bedrooms, and the car. The goal is to make drinking water super easy and accessible for them.
There are thousands of products you can buy to help your little ones when they’re sick, but I’ve found that this list has really made a difference for our family. I’m sure we’ll continue to use these mom hacks for cold and flu season during the years ahead of us, especially when all three kids are in school. Hope it helps your family, too!
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