the science of nutrition

How often is normal for your child to be sick in winter?

Paula James-Martinez

How often is normal for your child to be sick in winter?

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • The Winter Sickness Surge
  • Boosting Immunity: Equipping Your Child
  • When to Seek Professional Advice: Deciphering the Red Flags
  • The Bottom Line

0 min read


If you find yourself in the challenging role of a parent with a young child, chances are you've already weathered a couple of winter illnesses this season.

Children, it seems, are perpetually at the forefront of the seasonal sickness battle. Spreading germs at school and daycare in what can feel like a never-ending doom-loop.

Navigating the terrain of winter-related illnesses is nothing new, but recent years have brought new challenges with combinations of COVID, RSV, and the flu, making it even more crucial for parents to discern between the normal ebb and flow of seasonal health and when to seek professional advice.

The Winter Sickness Surge

It's no secret that winter ushers in a surge of illnesses for children. The colder weather, combined with increased indoor time in close proximity to others, creates the perfect breeding ground for viruses.

Studies show that the flu virus, in particular, thrives in colder, drier climates, lingering longer in the air.

Winter sickness is a predictable ride in terms of its seeming inevitability. With common colds, occasional coughs, and sniffles being the norm for most families with young children, even if they occur seemingly back to back.

But understanding what is considered normal in this viral melting pot is crucial for parents to make informed decisions. Because while a certain amount of sickness is expected during winter, recognizing when it surpasses the norm is key to knowing when to seek additional help.

Boosting Immunity: Equipping Your Child 

Shielding your child from every potential germ may be challenging, honestly, near impossible. But proactive steps can be taken to boost their immunity and minimize the impact of winter illnesses. Adequate nutrition, proper hydration, and sufficient sleep play pivotal roles in maintaining a robust immune system.

A diverse diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential vitamins and minerals.

70% of your immune system resides in your gut, so pre and probiotics can offer additional support, as seen in products like Needed's immune support, combining gut health with elderberry and zinc.

Hydration helps flush out toxins and keeps mucous membranes moist, preventing viral invasions.

A consistent sleep routine not only supports overall well-being but also strengthens the immune system.

Encouraging good hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing and teaching your child to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, further reduces the risk of germ transmission.

When to Seek Professional Advice: Deciphering the Red Flags

While winter illnesses are a part of parenting, certain red flags should prompt a visit to healthcare professionals.

If symptoms persist, worsen. Or are accompanied by concerning signs such as:

  • High fever.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Persistent lethargy, seeking medical advice is imperative.

On average, with babies to preschoolers, you’ll probably see between seven and eight infections a year. Up to twelve is considered within the realms of normal, particularly for kids who attend daycare.

However, if your child has more than 8 ear infections a year, is frequently hospitalized due to sickness, or illness is affecting their development or growth, then these could be warning signs and you should explore with your provider if there something more serious going on in regards to your child's health.

Doctors also caution parents to trust their instincts. You know your own particular child best. If something feels off or if a child's condition doesn't improve with home care, consulting with healthcare professionals is a responsible course of action.
Timely intervention can prevent minor issues from escalating into more significant health concerns.

The Bottom Line

As winter settles in, as parents it can be hard strike a balance between acknowledging the normal ebb and flow of seasonal illnesses and recognizing when red flags demand professional intervention.

But armed with knowledge about winter health red flags, proactive immunity-boosting measures, and an acute awareness of when to seek advice, we hope you can confidently navigate the season, prioritizing winter wellness.

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Paula James-Martinez, Filmmaker and Editorial Director

Paula James Martinez is a writer, filmmaker, and women's health advocate. She is the director and producer of the documentary Born Free, which investigates the truth about birth and maternal health America. Sits on the boards of non-profit organization "The Mother Lovers" and "4Kira4Moms" to raise awareness of the US maternal health crisis, and co-hosts the parenting podcast "Scruunchy."