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Some things that definitely aren’t on this year’s Christmas list...

As Christmas approaches, your local NHS has issued some useful hints and tips to help your little bundles of joy stay healthy during the winter months.

Children are particularly vulnerable to catching coughs, colds and other common illnesses as temperatures start to fall. But there are some simple measures you can take to keep your children on tip-top form over the festive season.

A balanced diet is key to boosting a child’s immunity to common winter illnesses like colds or flu, so make sure they are eating as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible – particularly at a time of year when there are a lot of treats to tempt them that are far less healthy.

Making sure children wash their hands regularly, particularly after playing or going to the toilet, and before they eat food, will help to reduce the spread of germs and encourage good habits.

If normally healthy children get a tummy bug, they won’t need a doctor’s appointment. The best thing to do for anyone with a dose of sickness and diarrhoea – like Norovirus – is to keep them at home, give them plenty of fluids and allow the virus to work its way through their system.

It’s important that anyone with sickness and diarrhoea keeps away from public places such as hospitals, schools, shops, or Santa’s grotto for 48 hours after it has stopped. They could have the infectious winter vomiting illness Norovirus, which can spread quickly and cause serious problems for some people.

The best treatment is to keep children at home, give them plenty of fluids and allow the virus to work its way through their system. If the symptoms continue after 48 hours or your child feels very poorly, call your GP or NHS111.

Children need warm coats, hats and gloves to play outside in the cold, but it’s essential to take outdoor clothing off straightaway when they’re back home, as young children in particular can overheat.

Stock up on medicines like your child’s usual pain relief, oral rehydration solution and cough mixture. Make sure they are in date and always read the label. A suitable thermometer is useful too, to keep an eye on your child’s temperature.

If your child is ill and you’re not sure where to go for help, you can contact your GP, ask a pharmacist (find your nearest one by visiting www.nhs.uk), or call NHS111 for medical help and advice 24 hours a day.

For more information about winter health, visit: www.nhs.uk/winterhealth

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