Keeping your entire brood well is probably topping your priority list. This may include keeping your child healthy on a long-haul flight to your home country! Luckily, there are things you can do to boost the immune system and proactively set yourself up for success. Here, paediatric doctor and mother-of-three DR NATALIE EPTON shares her top safety and health tips for flying with kids, holiday eating and staying mentally sane this holiday season.
Safety and health tips in the sky
Removing germs right off the bat is always a good idea on airplanes. Dr Natalie suggests wiping down any surfaces with antiseptic wet wipes before seating the children. She also recommends aiming to get the children changed and showered once you reach your destination.
To ward off any potential tears, she suggests getting a child to suck a liquid or lollipop during take-off and landing to stop that annoying pressure from building up in the ears.
Another parent pro-tip to help you prepare:
“Prefill a couple of syringes with Paracetamol, Panadol or Calpol syrup and put in a Tupperware in your hand luggage. This way, if your child cries inconsolably, you can quickly and easily administer pain relief.”
Healthy holiday eating tips
Christmas time means seasonal temptations and indulgences aplenty. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw your healthy eating habits out the window entirely! Healthy holiday eating is all about balance, explains Dr Natalie.
“If you know an extravagant dinner is planned, go for a more simple lunch. Aim for fruits for desserts on non-festive days, saving the indulgent cakes and puddings for occasional treats rather than every day,” she says.
“Ensure vegetables are on offer at each meal, and encourage your children, and yourself, to choose water to drink rather than juices or soft drinks.”
And, when it comes to Grandma’s love of spoiling the grandchildren with sweets, Dr Natalie suggests sitting down with her and devising a plan that won’t leave your children sick and you stressed.
“Let her be in charge of the advent calendars, for example. Or, if Grandma loves to bake, let her do some baking with the children but choose the recipe together in advance. Remind her that she can spoil the children in so many other ways – for instance, spending time making arts and crafts is a sure winner in the run-up to Christmas, with holiday cards and tree decorations being easy and fun family activities that Grandma can enjoy doing with her grandchildren.”
Staying mentally healthy
Staying mentally healthy is just as important as staying physically healthy and virus-free.
“Sometimes, in our desire to experience all the fun, we can get a bit overwhelmed. Tempers can get frayed as people get either over-excited or exhausted,” says Dr Natalie. “Try to build balance into each day – or at least into each week if some days are unavoidably busy. Include ‘activities’ such as reading a good book – and please take the opportunity to read books together as a family during this holiday season; there are so many beautiful and meaningful ones out there! Other activities may include going for a walk or a bike ride in the countryside, and some simple Christmas baking (if you are the kind of parent who doesn’t get palpitations at the thought of baking with kids!).
“And remember that a bit of alone time is sometimes exactly what is needed to press the reset button – a quiet stroll or a soak in a bath can magically transform you into that happy and engaged parent once again.”
How to boost the immune system quickly
Wondering how to keep your child healthy on a long-haul flight? Dr Natalie suggests taking measures to boost your immune system before you fly by doing the following.
#1 Getting enough sleep
“Sleep is an often-neglected factor when it comes to boosting the immune system – and one that often gets sacrificed during travel and the festive holiday season. Try to keep to sensible bedtimes (for the kids and you!) during the holidays,” advises Dr Natalie.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 11 to 14 hours of sleep for children aged one to two, and 10 to 13 hours of sleep for kids aged three to five, in a 24-hour period (including naps). Children aged six to 12 are advised to get nine to 12 hours. Teens aged 13 to 18 should sleep eight to 10 hours per night.
#2 Eating a vitamin-rich diet
“Generally, a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables should supply all your body’s dietary vitamin requirements,” says Dr Natalie.
#3 Checking which vaccinations your doctor recommends
Around a month before flying, Dr Natalie recommends checking with your children’s paediatrician to see which vaccinations he or she recommends.
Written in collaboration with SBCC Baby & Child Clinic
#05-46/47 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre,
38 Irrawaddy Road
6255 5017 | sbcc.sg