5 Secrets of Kids Who Rarely Get Sick

Do you know that neighbourhood kid who never seems to come down with anything? Do his parents know something you don't? Probably not, experts say, but put these five habits of healthy kids to use to avoid illness this year.

Keep hands clean

Regular hand-washing dramatically reduces the passing of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, so get your kids in the habit of scrubbing up (or using a hand sanitizer) when they leave preschool, after every playdate, and before they eat. Teach kids to sing "Happy Birthday" to themselves twice before rinsing -- scrubbing for 15-20 seconds is key.

Be active every day

Studies indicate that regular, moderate exercise can reduce the number of cold and flu episodes that occur over the course of a year by 25-50 percent, possibly by boosting the circulation of infection-fighting cells. Exercise is better than any advertised cure or miracle.

Get plenty of ZZZs

Make sure kids stick to an early bedtime. According to experts, sleep deprivation nearly doubles the risk of getting a cold or flu. Most babies need approximately 14 hours of sleep a day; preschoolers need 11-13 hours of Z's.

Avoid touching your face

Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the nose, eyes, and mouth, so help your child keep her hands away from those areas. Yes, it can be very difficult to accomplish – hand-washing at strategic moments is all the more important. Teach your child never to share a straw, cup, or toothbrush.

Consume a balanced and healthy diet

Meals with plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables will help boost your child's immune system. Look for foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli, strawberries, and oranges) and vitamin D (tuna, fortified milk, and cereals). Eating yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can also help build defenses.