It is important to keep you and your family healthy over the holidays.

By: Jason C. Bruce, M.D.

The ‘happiest season of all’ is upon us. As we celebrate, we may be spreading more than good cheer. From the crowded shopping malls to grandma’s hugs and kisses, all of the holiday togetherness can bring on illness. Boys Town Pediatrics would like to offer some tips to help keep you and your family healthy over the holidays.

Maintain cleanliness. Bathrooms and kitchens are some of the busiest places during a holiday get together. Keep the rooms disinfected, clean up spills right away and make sure there are enough soap and towels for guests. Remember, proper hand-washing lasts 30 seconds. As many hands reach for the same plate of rolls and dish of gravy, wouldn’t you want your neighbor to have clean hands?

Have your flu shot. If you have not received your flu vaccination, there is still time. There is a two-week incubation period from when you receive your shot until you are immunized from the virus. Receiving the flu shot before you begin your hustle and bustle of shopping and parties will help keep you from getting the influenza illness that can bring all of your holiday cheer to a halt.

Stay home. If you do come down with the flu or cold symptoms, the best place for you to be is at home. Your family and friends will thank you for not spreading germs and your body will thank you for getting the adequate rest needed for a full recovery.

Tips for Healthy Holiday Food

Food is a big part of the holiday season. With every get together, there are appetizers, drinks and don’t forget the sweets. Boys Town Pediatrics offers a few tips to get through the social gatherings.

Watch the appetizers. The bite size snacks can have a huge impact on the number of calories you consume over the holidays. It is best if you can offer guests healthy options like fruit kabobs or a grilled vegetable tray for appetizers. With so many parties, your guests will be thankful for the lighter fare.

Stay hydrated. For every cup of hot chocolate, apple cider or egg nogg, you should consume at least two glasses of water. Water will help you stay full a little longer and help keep you from becoming too bloated from all of the sodium and carbohydrates you may consume.

Put the desserts away until after dinner. It is too irresistible for young children, and probably even adults, if you leave cookies and brownies on the counter.

While at home, keep the refrigerator and cupboards stocked with healthy choices, drink plenty of water and exercise daily. Plan a family walk after dinner or play a game of charades, Nintendo Wii or Twister. Keep in mind, it is okay to splurge a little during the holidays—just be aware of healthy alternatives when they are available.

Tips for Safe Holiday Gift Giving

Boys Town Pediatrics offers tips to help parents and grandparents make safe choices when purchasing toys this season.

Stay tuned to current recalls - visit the Consumer Product Safety Council (CPSC) website at www.cpsc.gov or www.recalls.gov which lists all current and past toy recalls.

Purchase toys that are locally made - the United States banned lead paint in 1978, so gift-givers can feel safe about purchasing toys that are crafted with materials purchased in the USA.

Select gifts which are developmentally and age appropriate - Even though your 2 year old may understand concepts for toys marked 3+ years; the product may contain small or detachable parts, magnets or other items that can pose as a choking hazard to small children.

According to the CPSC, the top five toy hazards for small children include magnets, small parts, ride-on toys (i.e. skateboards, riding toys), projectile toys and chargers and adapters.

Boys Town Pediatrics recommends that children should always be supervised by an adult. If a child is choking or stops breathing, call 9-1-1 immediately. As always, contact your child’s physician anytime you have questions about your child’s health.