As cities and states gradually open up, it is natural for parents to worry about their children’s safety. Experts weigh in on how parents can keep them protected from the virus.
Dr. Stephanie Hanson, a pediatrician from Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota said the most important thing is to ensure that the child is in the best health possible. She advises going to doctor’s appointments, vaccination schedules, and well-child visits. This will help keep your child’s immune system high and protect him from infection.
Regarding play and outdoor time, which is crucial in a child’s physical, emotional, and mental development, Dr. Keshia Pollack Porter of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said parents should encourage children to play on their own — for now.
Solo play activities like jumping rope, riding a bike or scooter, playing hopscotch, painting, or drawing on the sidewalk keep the child active. In case another kid comes out to play, it’s the parents’ job to make sure there’s enough distance between them at all times.
Health experts also suggest teaching kids proper hand-washing techniques and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Parents should show their children how to wear a face mask correctly and explain why they should wear them when out in public places.
“Remind children they are to wash their hands after touching high-traffic areas such as doorknobs, light switches, and electronic devices. Hands should be washed before and after using the bathroom to eliminate the spread of germs and viruses to other parts of the body and surfaces,” said Linda Inmon from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
She suggests training children wear face coverings the right way — covering both the nose and mouth. Inmon noted that it’s not advisable for children under 2 years old to wear a mask because “lack of oxygen could result in death”. She adds that older children who find face masks restrictive can try cloth masks.
Besides wearing face masks in places where other people are present, children should be taught the importance of physical distancing.
As businesses and establishments reopen, parents are advised to gently reintroduce their children to the new normal.
“Try to find a time when it is less crowded when taking your children out. Remind them it is not safe to pick up or touch things that have not been sanitized. Use antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer often when away from home. A vaccine has not been discovered, so we are not out of the woods yet,” Inmon added.