With winter in full effect within the Northern Hemisphere, new parents are looking for essential tips and tricks to keep their children happy and smiling. Unlike the warmer months of spring and summer, winter contributes to various health issues that parents should become familiar with in upcoming weeks.
Whether this is your first child or you’re adding another member to your growing pack, here are the signs and indicators that it’s time to contact your pediatrician for further assistance. Remember: a healthy baby is a happy baby, and being a productive parent means keeping yourself educated with each passing month.
Birth To Two-Years Old
During the winter season, looking out for signs of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is critical. RSV is, in fact, one of the most impactful medical ailments that children under the age of 2 can contract.
The virus attacks the child’s airway and respiratory systems, leading to labored breathing and excessive mucus production. For worried parents, consult with the following list of symptoms associated with RSV:
Uncontrolled, rapid breathing patterns
Disinterested in feeding
If your child is developing these symptoms, it’s time to consult with a pediatrician. These professionals treat hundreds of babies with RSV, and their ability to turn a frowning, pouty baby into a vibrant bundle of joy is awe-inspiring.
Once your baby is old enough to walk, run and interact with people around them, strep throat should be your primary concern. Although strep throat can occur during any season, it runs rampant during cold months when children begin to wipe their noses and suck their fingers.
Strep throat, in its most basic form, is a bacterial infection that inflames the respiratory system with moisture droplets and infected mucus. This highly-contagious bacteria transmits through our mucus glands — ears, nose, mouth, etc. — leaving your little one feeling lethargic and sickly. A simple cough, sneeze or exchange of saliva can be the difference between a healthy baby and one who can barely get out of bed. With these factors in mind, here are the symptoms that patients with strep throat commonly present to their pediatricians:
Chronic headhaches and migraines
Refusal to eat
Large tonsils with a reddish hue
Extreme nausea and spitup
Rashes on the body
Enlarged glands on the neck
The reason why children in the 2-year age bracket are most susceptible to strep throat is associated with a common developmental milestone they make during this period: socialization. A healthy baby begins to form relationships and bonds with people in their lives around the age of 2, and while this may seem like sunshine and rainbows, socialization can lead to serious health complications.
Whether it’s a friend from daycare or a family relative they love spending time with, each interaction is a potential hazard to their well-being. If a moisture droplet from a person who has the strep throat virus enters your child’s mucus membranes, symptoms manifest within days. Pediatricians insist that parents and guardians sanitize their children’s hands and extremities after every play session to thwart off would-be ailments.
Dealing with tummy aches and nausea is a common part of being a parent, but when should you be concerned with your child’s discomfort? For starters, any stomach ailments that don’t go away after a few days should be examined by your pediatrician. Although these experiences are expected within kids around the three-year mark, it could be a recipe for something worse: Gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis is a nasty virus that leaves sufferers with diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, painful cramps, fever, sweating and blood in their stool. Children around this age catch Gastroenteritis primarily from being in proximity to other sick children with the virus. The virus makes its way from one host to another by coming in contact with objects, surfaces and touching people who have been near a child with Gastroenteritis.
If your child reports having extreme bouts of pain and agony from their abdomen for days or weeks, it’s time to see a professional. Conversely, you may notice your child’s health declining after sharing a drink with a friend or interacting in a large social environment with many children in attendance.
Non-COVID flu is one of the most common issues that children around four years old suffer from during the winter months. Simply put, flu viruses love when the weather is cold and dry. In this environment, flu particles can spread and contaminate a plethora of hosts without a problem.
During winter, flu viruses have the perfect conditions to spread and thrive within various hosts. Knowing this, your child is the flu’s easiest target, and it’s up to parents to ensure their child’s safety in the winter season. Your first step is to introduce small amounts of moisture into your home’s air supply. Since the flu prefers a moisture-free environment, its reproduction is greatly reduced when we use devices like a humidifier.
In conjunction with this tip, ensure all your surfaces are clean and sanitized from particles, more so if you have visitors coming into your home for the holidays. Who knows: washing your child’s hands after seeing relatives could be the difference between battling the flu and making snow angels outside!
Moreover, parents are encouraged to keep a tidy and germ-free home throughout the cool months. Personal cleanliness is a staple for any household, but keeping a safe environment for your kiddo to run and play is essential for their long-term health. Make a habit of disinfecting all surfaces after play dates, and consider keeping bottles of sanitizer strategically placed throughout your dwelling for easy access.
Kids in the five-year range love a white winter where they can sled down hills with their friends, get in snowball fights, build igloos and craft the perfect snowman. However, this is also the time when kids sneeze and cough on their gloves, swap clothing items, play physical games and touch dirty tissues their friends toss to the side.
As a result of these behaviors, contracting conjunctivitis (pink eye) is a common experience for a five-year-old child to undergo. Pink eye is when the delicate membrane of a child’s eyes, also known as the conjunctiva, becomes inflamed and infected. After infection, the area fills with fluid and presses against the eye, and leaks out into the exterior, presenting a yellow discharge around the edges of the eyelid.
Children with pink eye will have tenderness in the area, light sensitivity, and in rare cases, become unable to open their eyelids. Parents should encourage their children to avoid sharing mittens, scarves, beanies and jackets. Conversely, five-year-old children should never touch dirty tissues or scratch their mucus membranes without washing the surface of their hands with warm water and soap.
Take Action Today!
Rather than being a reactive parent who spends their day putting out fires, become proactive and reach out to a pediatrician today. Our highly-trained professionals will give insight into how you can protect your child’s health and well-being in the winter months.
Moreover, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that should your child become ill in the upcoming weeks, you have a person on your side who wants to see your child thrive. Don’t hesitate — call today and gain control of your winter this year!