Child Using Tissue

Keeping your kids healthy requires different approaches throughout the year.

Children’s risk of illness goes up between the start of the school year and the end of flu season. Since long cold and flu seasons last until May, that means illness can become a concern all school year long.

“The flu certainly can be dangerous in children,” Dr. Gabriel Cisneros, MD, medical director of UPMC Children’s Express Care in Lawrenceville, tells WPXI. “Every year, children are hospitalized and even die from the flu. So it’s a potentially fatal respiratory infection.”

Teaching your student how to be a healthy kid or teen will help them stay well at school and at home.

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How to Stay Healthy During the School Year

Parents can help children and teenagers maintain their well-being by teaching them these health tips:

  • Eat a Healthy Diet: Give your child a nutritious breakfast every morning. If you pack their lunch, remember to include reasonable portions and options from all food groups. Parents who opt for school lunches can teach their children how to make healthy choices in the lunch line.
  • Practice Healthy Habits: Managing stress and preventing germs help kids avoid illness. Show your child how to wash their hands and cover their mouths to stop spreading illness. Let them know you’re there to support them when life gets overwhelming.
  • Exercise: Encourage your child to practice proper exercises for healthy kids. Go on walks together and show them how fun it is to play outside. Exercise tips for teenagers differ a little from those for younger children. Look for ways to make exercise enjoyable for your teen, such as active video games or sports activities.

Of course, you also have a significant role to play in your child’s wellness. Schedule a checkup every year with a trusted primary physician and make sure they receive all shots recommended at their age.

Flu vaccines, for example, can usually be administered as early as six months of age.

“When (children) do start the flu shot at six months, they require two doses one month apart,” says Dr. Cisneros. “But after that, it’s one dose annually.”

Follow your doctor’s directions when they give you advice.

What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick

Children can get sick even when you follow all the tips mentioned above. When your kid feels unwell, help them get better by:

  • Keeping Them at Home: Letting your student get better at home will give them the rest needed to recover as soon as possible. They will also keep their germs at home, helping their peers and teachers stay healthy.
  • Giving Them Plenty of Fluids: Fluids keep airways clear and help your child stay hydrated when they have vomiting or diarrhea. Soups and other hot liquid foods are easy on the stomach.
  • Taking Them to the Doctor When Needed: You can treat your child at home if they have mild and common symptoms. However, some situations require medical care. If your child has symptoms that don’t get better or become worse, a doctor at an urgent care clinic can help.

Count on UPMC Urgent Care

Life doesn’t happen by appointment, which is why we welcome patients to come in any time we’re open — no appointments needed. When your child needs care sooner than a doctor’s visit, stop by a UPMC Urgent Care clinic. Our efficient registration and short waiting room times ensure your kid feels better as soon as possible.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.