It always seems like in winter my family goes from one illness to another. It can really ruin the holiday season! This year I'm going to try to more actively keep us healthy to the best of my ability. Here are some of the things I've found that can help you keep your children healthy and safe during the holidays: 1. Hand washing! Even more than in warm weather, we tend to take our kids to indoor play areas that involve a lot of contact with other children and with the surfaces they touch. We also all generally have more inside contact, which means a lot more germs. Now is a great time to make sure your kids get into the habit of hand washing. Wash after leaving crowded areas, after playing, before eating, when you get home - you get the picture. Carry a small tube of hand lotion to combat dry hands from winter weather and lots of washing. 2. Saline drops and humidifiers to prevent dry noses and throats. My son tends to get a lot of nosebleeds and respiratory problems when the air is really dry. I've found that putting a couple of drops of saline in each nostril (found at any pharmacy) before he goes to bed, as well as putting a humidifier in his room, has drastically reduced his nosebleeds, congestion and coughing. 3. Keep an especially watchful eye on your kids. During the holidays there are a lot of variables everyone around you that aren't usually there. Ornaments and decorations have small pieces and sharp bits can hurt little hands or go in little mouths. We often also put out decorations that can break easily. Do a round of special holiday childproofing in your home, putting breakable objects and choking hazards out of reach - including things like hard candies. Sacrificing a little in decor is worth preventing accidents! 4. Be on guard for poisoning hazards. This is a continuation of #3. There are many holiday plants around that are poisonous when ingested, such as poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and others. Make sure they are out of reach of curious taste buds. KidsHealth.org says: "Symptoms of plant poisoning can include rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of a plant, immediately call your doctor or the National Poison Center: (800) 222-1222." Also beware of children ingesting the bubble lights or even the alcohol that is often around at holiday parties. 5. Practice food safety. Nobody ever wants food poisoning. Ever. There is a particular danger of contamination when you are multitasking during prep for big holiday meals. Make sure you wash your hands regularly, keep things refrigerated that need to be (it's easy to lose track of how long ingredients are out) and wash everything that comes in contact with raw meats before using it on something else. 6. Prevent fires and have an escape plan. The holidays are magical, but that indoor wonderland often involves a plethora of fires and electronics winding around many flammable objects. Make sure you never ever leave the fire unattended, such as when you leave the house, and always make sure it is completely out before you go to sleep. Avoid candles, check your smoke detectors and don't leave your stove on when you leave the house. Just in case - make sure your whole family, including your kids, are on board with an escape plan in case of fire. Practice how to stop, drop and roll. 7. Stay active. Bundle up and play outdoors for at least an hour a day if possible. For times when you can't go outside, there are active games you can play inside! Have a dance party with your child and some fun tunes (my son loves Baby Beatles! by Caspar Babypants). There are also kids' songs tailored for prompting active play. I will soon post a card with Songs for Active Indoor Play. You can see it by following my collection, Indoor Fun with Toddlers: http://www.vingle.net/collections/1631792 I attached a link to more great tips for keeping your children healthy so you can have the most possible fun this holiday season!