A healthy monsoon

A healthy monsoon

A healthy monsoon
A Peppa Pig fan, my daughter thinks rain equals muddy puddles. Alas, rain in India also means bouts of cold, cough and flu, gastroenteritis and worse, the dreaded dengue and chikungunya. My toddler’s infectious enthusiasm for jumping into puddles and getting thoroughly soaked is matched by my intense paranoia about what illnesses she might contract.

Finding a middle ground without dampening her spirits too much (and without giving me sleepless nights) is what I have learned to do when the monsoons hit us. Over the years, I have made for myself a set of rain rules that work well for me — the kid is happy, I am relieved and we manage to enjoy the rains; she with her high-strung actions and me with a warm cup of masala chai! Here are some rules that can make rains fun for the kids without becoming too much of hassle for you:

Make it at home

Nutritionists can’t stress enough how a healthy, balanced diet is the most vital factor in boosting immunity. Monsoons is the time for both airborne and waterborne diseases, and these infections often occur because of low immunity compounded by the consumption of unhygienic food, reheated dishes and bakery products made out of non-pasteurised dairy. It is best to make those pani puris and bhel puris at home this season and avoid any kind of street food.

According to Dr Poornima S, Consultant Paediatrician at Sagar Clinic, “Children are more susceptible than adults to water-borne diseases and infections, especially upper respiratory tract infections, gastroenteritis, dengue and influenza. I would advise parents to make sure that their children consume warm fresh food, drink boiled water and lots of fluids too. They should also eat a lot of citrus fruits to boost immunity. It is best to avoid playing in the slush to avoid mosquito bites. Another important thing for parents to remember is to not send sick kids to school until they have completely recovered. Sending them back to school too soon will not only make kids weaker but will also spread the infection to other children.” 

Bad clothing

The Danes who are used to notorious weather often say there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing! There’s a lot of wisdom in there. If your child has to go out in the rain, make sure he or she has the right kind of raincoats, umbrellas and gumboots. Ensure that they take a warm shower in case they get soaked. And once they are out of the shower, give them that hot chocolate!

Protection from mosquitoes

Most diseases that rear their head up in the monsoons are due to mosquito bites. Keep those pesky pests away by preventing waterlogging near your home and ensuring that your house is protected from mosquitoes. Make it a habit to apply mosquito repellent cream on the skin before they go out.

“Water-borne diseases are most common in monsoons because July to October is the breeding season for mosquitoes and houseflies,” says Dr Prashanth V N, general physician. “Due to poor sewage and waste disposal systems, diseases such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya are caused by mosquito bites while other viruses cause a host of viral infections such as colds, coughs, flu, typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, leptospirosis and severe diarrhoea. The most important precaution you can take is to keep your surroundings clean and prevent water logging.”

According to Dr Prashanth, most of these viral infections and monsoon illnesses have similar symptoms. These include high-grade fever, chills, headaches and severe body-ache, upper respiratory infections and sometimes skin rashes. “It is best to consult a specialist as wrong treatments by self-medication or a heavy dose of antibiotics/intra-muscular injections can aggravate the situation further,” he explains.

He also suggests home remedies like drinking a lot of fluids and building up immunity by eating balanced meals. “Coconut water with a dash of salt or small quantities of ORS at regular intervals are good,” he adds.

Clean & hydrated

A well-hydrated body is better able to fight off germs. Drinking lots of water (preferably with a dash of lemon in it) helps cleanse the system. Remember, children often don’t understand thirst and may go long hours without drinking a drop of water, if not reminded. Good personal hygiene is also a great factor is preventing them from contracting illnesses. Encourage them to use handkerchiefs, wash their hands and feet before meals, and yes, not bite nails.

With these rules in place, you can create wonderful rain memories for your child to cherish.

Nutritious snacks for kids

Children get unusually peckish during the rains. Whether it is the damp in the air or plain boredom because they cannot go out to play, this is the time they run up to their mothers demanding munchies. Often, for lack of better options, we end up handing out junk — chocolates, sweets and samosas. With a little effort, we can dish up healthier snacks with nutritious veggies and fruits and help provide them with much-needed immunity in this season of colds and flu bugs.

For the drink-it-up kid: Soups! Not the instant ones but the ones made with vegetable or chicken stock. The choices are huge — from the plain old tomato to mixed veggie soups to the more exotic zucchini and pumpkin soups. You can be as creative as you like — mix potato with corn, add a dash of oregano; make a broth of carrot, spinach and coriander and coat it with some thyme and basil... you get the idea! Keep minced garlic handy — they give that ‘restaurant’ flavour to your homemade soup. If your kid is okay with it, you can even throw in some chopped carrots, a few green peas and mint leaves for a more wholesome snack.

For the egg lover: My kid is a great fan of eggs and gobbles up anything I churn out from these power-packed wonders of nature. From masala omelettes to bull’s eye to French toast, to sunny side up to creamy devilled eggs, there are a hundred different ways to get them to load up on protein.

The ‘chatpata’ toddler: If your kid likes spicy stuff, why not try what I call ‘stealth cutlets’ that hide the good stuff. Unlike what you may think, cutlets are easy to make — the stuffing could be grated beetroot and potato, spinach and potato or even whole moong. You can even try spicing up cut fruits with some black salt and chaat masala and spearing them up on popsicle sticks.
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