Protecting Your Childs Health During The Monsoons}

Submitted by: Krishna Mahathi

Double standards do not agitate me anymore. I have come to believe that most of us have three sets of standards: one that we set for ourselves and rationalise if we dont attain, one that we set for others and judge instantly if they dont attain and then there is the standard we set for our children. We want their lives to be fool proof and somehow ignore the whispers of wisdom to let them be. Every season has gifts to give and rain is always welcome after scorching summers. I used to love getting drenched, sipping warm tea and eating snacks at a roadside shack and dream away as I travelled on a wet evening. Ironically, I shield my daughter from the first trickle because it is acid rain; I think twice before giving her anything to eat, and travel cautiously. Gradually, I have learnt to let my child indulge in some zingy stuff. Monsoon also heralds a frenzied spell in the paediatric wards and we sort of rally around squeamishly till Christmas time. There is a tussle handling surplus beds, reports and distraught family members. So today I want to discuss some things which will let your little enjoy the pleasures of this weather mindfully.

Preventive measures taken to ensure your childs good health are certainly worth the effort. While we still have no licensed vaccines against dengue fever or malaria, the mosquitos carrying the tormentors can be done away with to a great extent. Please ensure that you have no areas with stagnant water in your surroundings, like empty flower pots, discarded tyres, the space below the air conditioner, construction debris, etc. These are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Have your area sprayed with insecticides and get the drains securely closed when the rains are around the corner. Mosquito nets are more reliable than repellents. Citronella oil (can be added to the floor cleaning disinfectant or placed in a diffuser), camphor and clove (burnt in the evening time indoors) are effective natural remedies. Flies and rodents need to combatted as well if you live in Mumbai like I do. The species we encounter here are extraordinarily adapted for survival. A vigilant watch over bathroom and washbasin drains should be done before monsoons arrive. Ensure that food items are properly stored and covered.

Digestion slows down during this season and unlike us children may not be interested in fried snacks and dairy products. A diet that includes helpings of soups along with antioxidant rich veggies and fruits is more agreeable. So enjoy the pumpkins, bottle guards, bitter guards and bell peppers. Root vegetables and those which grow close to the soil (like cabbage) need to be washed thoroughly avoid eating them raw. Sprout legumes at home in a dry area. Greens need not be avoided altogether. Steam the leaves before adding them to your recipes.

Let children carry boiled and filtered water wherever they travel. They need to be well hydrated as sweat does not evaporate easily in the humid weather. I also think that soaking their water bottles and lunch boxes in boiled water for a minute after a good wash is helpful. Water needs to be boiled the right way. Once bubbles appear continue boiling for four minutes at least before switching off.

Hand washing with soap and water (preferably warm) for at least one full minute is a vital part of disease control. Remind children to do it whenever they return indoors.

Clothing and footwear should be chosen wisely in this weather. It is more appropriate to wear cotton clothes that allow air circulation than just switch to stuffy jackets. Invest in additional innerwear this season as clothes take longer to dry completely and iron them before use. Keep childrens sweaty areas dry as fungal infections are common this time of the year. You can continue to apply prickly heat powders too. Feet should also be kept dry and cotton socks are preferable for school. They should be removed immediately if soaked. Gum boots and clogs are a good investment, along with raincoats.

If the mats and mattresses feel humid dust them with baking /cooking soda and vacuum over them. This is an effective way of ensuring that they are dry.

There is no need to restrict warm baths because it is raining outside. This is counterproductive. Remember to add antiseptics to the water and dry hair quickly.

Avoid travel in overcrowded vehicles as much as possible.

Restricted outdoor play can be compensated with quality time at home. You can cook and read with your school going kid or attempt doing a piece of craftwork. It may also be the right time to have a heart to heart talk with your teenager.

So let the rain not dampen your spirits, let it soak you up in enthusiasm instead.

About the Author: Dr. Krishna Mahathi holds diplomas in Pediatrics and in the management of allergies and asthma. Years of working and interacting with children and parents have given her insight into developmental disabilities. She wishes that there was more awareness and acceptance of the issues that differently-abled children face and hopes that through this blog, she can enable thse children and their families to make sensible and informed choices.

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