19 Tips to Keep Kids from Getting Sick

How do you prevent sickness in kids and keep your child healthy? Here are 19 tips to keep your kids from getting sick.

As a parent, it can seem like a huge task to keep your kids healthy. This is especially challenging when there’s sickness going around, if your kids are in school, or if it seems like your child is frequently getting sick.

It’s true that not every bout of illness your kids get will be within your power to prevent. But there are things you can do to prevent the spread of germs sometimes.

Here are 19 ways to prevent sickness in kids- even if they’re in school.

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1.) Teach kids to wash their hands when appropriate.

a child's soapy hands are shown as he washes them in the sink under runny water

Times kids should wash their hands to prevent sickness:

  • after coming home
  • before eating
  • after playing outside
  • after using the bathroom
  • after cleaning
  • after blowing their nose
  • after sneezing
  • after coughing
  • after petting an animal
  • after handling raw food that’s unsafe before cooking
  • after touching anything dirty or gross

The CDC recommends scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds each time they’re washed.

If you want to make sure your kids are washing their hands long enough, you can check out this 20-second hand-washing timer for kids (it also times teeth-brushing for 2 minutes.)

2.) Teach kids not to share germs with food & drink.

2 boys sharing a sub, each biting off of one end at the same time

Children should be discouraged from doing things like biting off of another kids’ sandwich, sharing drinks at school, etc.

If you’re okay with your kids sharing food & drink with certain individuals- such as immediate family members, make sure they know who they can and can’t share with.

3.) Make sure your kids get to bed on time.

empty child's bed

Having adequate rest helps children to keep their immune system stronger. While this doesn’t mean they won’t get sick, it certainly puts them in a better position to fight off germs.

If you’re having trouble getting your kids in a good bedtime routine, here are 9 tips to get kids to sleep on time.

4.) Teach your kids to have good habits with daily hygiene.

a mom and dad in bath robes brushing their teeth together with their daughter in the bathroom

Younger kids don’t always need a full bath every single day. But as we know, besides hands, there are some areas of their body that should be cleaned daily.

At minimum, a child’s face, teeth, and private areas should be cleaned properly each day, as well as any additional areas that get dirty or stinky- depending on your child’s age and lifestyle.

Kids as young as toddlers can be taught to brush their teeth and wash themselves up.

This is a free printable teeth chart to reward toddlers for brushing their teeth.

5.) Teach your kids to respect personal space & to keep their distance from people who are contagious.

boy sneezing into his elbow in school class with a mask on

It’s important to teach kids to respect personal space, and to avoid hugging, kissing, and touching people when anyone involved is sick.

When someone in our household is sick, we do try to humanely separate them from everyone else, depending on what is reasonable for their age and the situation.

6.) Make sure your kids in school have tissues, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes in their classroom.

a box of tissue with one tissue sticking up

Some classrooms try to keep these items stocked, but they may run out throughout the school year. So it’s good to make sure your child has their own supply if they are in school.

Teach them to use disinfectant wipes to wipe down shared objects or surfaces, (such as a desk that’s shared with multiple kids throughout the day.)

7.) Make sure kids keep their hands out of their mouth and off of their face.

a little girl with blue eyes and curly blond hair putting her left hand on her face covering her mouth

“Keep your hands out of your mouth, please!”

If your kids are anything like mine, you’ll need to repeat this multiple times to them.

But this is so important. I don’t know what it is but every child seems to be magnetically drawn to touching their face and mouth. And this is probably one of the easiest ways they get themselves sick.

So don’t give up in getting them in the habit of keeping their hands off of their face.

8.) Disinfect & sanitize commonly touched areas at home.

woman disinfecting a doornob in her home to keep her family healthy

It’s important to disinfect commonly used areas of your home where bacteria and germs may be hiding in plain sight.

This includes areas such as the bathroom, door handles, drawer and cabinet handles, and kitchen counters.

9.) Practice food safety.

a parent's and child's hands are shown forming raw dough into balls as they bake together

A lot of times we’re worried about germs coming in from outside of our home.

But we also want to make sure the food inside our house is not contaminated or unsafe in any way. (This website- Food Safety Superhero- is a great resource.)

It’s essential to make sure foods are cooked to the proper degree for safety, (especially if you cook meat,) and that they’re stored correctly.

You also want to use up perishable items before they spoil, toss food as soon as it’s unsafe, and refrigerate things that need to stay cold soon enough so bacteria doesn’t grow.

Don’t let your kids eat raw foods that are unsafe to consume prior to cooking them to a certain temperature. And you want to make sure they don’t touch, handle, or prepare unsafe raw foods before they’re responsible enough to do so safely.

10.) Educate yourself about health, contagious illnesses in your area, and recommended precautions.

a mom reads a book to research health information so she can keep her kids healthy

As parents, it’s important that we do our own research and take into account recommendations from doctors & health experts.

We can then make more informed decisions when it comes to our family’s health and preventative measures we should take.

11.) Consider not bringing kids to crowded places unnecessarily.

a family is at an outdoor game cheering in a crowd

Staying away from large crowds is especially important during seasons where your kids are at higher risk for getting sick or while there are outbreaks of illnesses in your region.

If my husband can watch the kids, I won’t take them with me shopping during cold & flu season.

When I have taken my toddlers grocery shopping or on errands, I’ve gone at less busier times. In the city where I live, early morning and in the evening after dinner are the least busiest times to go grocery shopping for me.

When I go at the less busier times, I spend less than 1/2 the time in the store, and we come into contact with way less people. Going through the store faster also means my kids can’t touch as much stuff. And overall they are exposed to less germs.

Update 11/12/2020: At this time I don’t take my kids in any stores due to local circumstances and the risk of them getting sick. (My husband is able to watch them, so this is what we personally do.)

Yes, it’s good for kids to do activities and get out of the house year-round. I do think it’s a good idea for kids to have life experience and watch you do day-to-day tasks that they’ll need to learn, as well as to go out in public.

But we have to balance these life experiences with taking precautions, especially during times when illnesses are going around.

12.) Provide your kids with healthy foods, and make nutrition a priority.

an array of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables- blueberries, ginger root, yellow and orange peppers, kiwi, brussels sprouts, celery, tomatoes, garlic, raspberries, cranberries, walnuts, strawberries, snap peas, and more

It’s important that children get all the nutrients they need. That doesn’t mean they can never eat junk food or things that aren’t super healthy. But try to limit these, and balance their diet with foods that are relatively healthy.

You can also talk to their doctor about adding additional natural supplements/vitamins, such as a natural multivitamin for kids.

13.) Set a good example with taking care of your health.

a mom does pushups with her son on exercise mats so she can teach him to be healthy

When our kids watch us practicing good hygiene and taking care of ourselves, they are more likely to develop healthy habits themselves.

It also protects them from getting sick from you– when you’re staying healthy yourself.

Let your kids see you eating healthy, exercising, and making other healthy decisions. Explain your choices to them and why you do the things you do.

14.) Take your kids to their regular check-ups, and tell their pediatrician about any concerns.

a little girl is shown at her checkup with her pediatrician as a female doctor checks her heartbeat with a stethoscope and both are smiling

It’s important to keep up with your children’s physicals and necessary routine care. Their doctor can assist you with maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your family, and address any medical issues that arise.

Sometimes preventative care can keep kids from getting sick. That’s the goal!

15.) Wash clothing after one wear during times someone in the family is sick or while there is an outbreak of illness in your region.

mom and daughter doing laundry together to wash clothing after one wear since there are illnesses going around in the area

Normally I’m all for re-wearing (what still seems to be) clean clothing to save on time, detergent, and fabric wear.

But when there are more germs than normal around, this goes out the window for us. The same goes for changing out and washing things like bath mats, hand towels and bedding more often.

16.) Educate kids about their general health & hygiene.

mom teaches daughter to wash hands and tells her why it's important

To the degree appropriate for their age, teach your kids about staying healthy, having good hygiene, and avoiding germs.

It’s important for kids to understand that what they do matters when it comes to health.

We’ve had frank conversations with our kids explaining that when there are illnesses going around, it’s possible for them to spread these germs to someone else who may get dangerously ill, even if they do not get sick themselves.

So we emphasize how we should avoid doing things that can spread germs, even when we’re in good health.

17.) Make sure your kids dress warm enough in cold weather.

a little girl is shown smiling with a warm gray and pink hat on with a snowy winter background.

When the temperature is cold, it’s important to make sure kids dress appropriately- with clothing items such as hats, gloves, boots, winter coats, and scarves.

Also consider staying inside on days it’s just too cold.

18.) Keep your home in a relatively clean state with a daily cleaning routine.

a mom does her daily cleaning routine vacuuming floor while toddler daughter cleans the floor with a cloth

Doing a daily cleaning routine will keep your home in a cleaner state, which decreases the spread of germs at home.

I used to really struggle with keeping my house- well- not a total mess. Something that’s helped me is developing a daily cleaning routine for the main areas of our home that are the most used.

Now my house is in a relatively clean state with a clean kitchen table, and I don’t have to worry about old dirty dishes hiding out under clutter. It’s just one piece of the ‘staying healthy puzzle’, but it is certainly important.

And even though right now I am actually fighting off a cold myself, because I have the habit of a daily cleaning routine, my house is still somewhat manageable and not in a crazy dirty state. (There may be some toys on the floor, but it’s mostly clean.)

If you struggle with maintaining a clean home like I did (for years), download my free daily cleaning routine checklists here. I designed these with the method that finally keeps my house under control for good.

19.) Show kids that staying healthy is enjoyable.

a boy grabs a grape from a bowl of fresh fruit

Help your kids understand they’ll have much more fun when their friends, family, and themselves aren’t sick. This will encourage them to try harder to stay healthy.

To help kids do this, I designed this free printable Healthy Lifestyle Pictures Match Game you can play with them.

So those are 19 ways to keep kids from getting sick. By staying aware of what’s going on in your region, taking precautions, and teaching good health & hygiene habits, you can stop your kids from getting sick unnecessarily.

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How to Prevent Sickness in Kids- 19 Health Tips

2 COMMENTS

  1. Stacey - Food Safety Superhero | 22nd Mar 20

    What a wonderful article. I’m kinda biased, but I love you added food safety into the mix. Most times people just ignore it until it’s too late. This article is perfect and so timely. I really love #13. A lot of times parents are all about doing as I say and not as I do. I think to keep a child healthy, they need to learn their healthy habits from us.

    • Ellie | 23rd Mar 20

      Hi Stacey, I totally agree that we need to set the example, both to teach and to keep them safe. And I love that you share food safety tips. That is definitely a topic that is important for everyone!

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