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Elementary school boy getting

It’s that time of year again! Your children are getting their class schedules, back-to-school shopping is in full swing, and parents everywhere are frantically preparing for their child’s first day of school. With the new school year comes a whole new set of germs that your child may be exposed to. Take a look at these helpful items you should pack in your child’s backpack to help them stay healthy throughout the school year.

Hand sanitizer

One of the easiest ways to help keep your child healthy is to encourage them to keep their hands clean while at school. It’s important that your child learn to either wash their hands or use hand sanitizer throughout the day and especially prior to lunch and/or snack time.

Hand sanitizer is an item that can be found at any pharmacy and most grocery stores. It often comes in small, travel-size containers so your child can easily fit a bottle inside their backpack, pencil pouch or lunchbox. These small bottles of hand sanitizer often come with a carrying case that can clip onto you child’s backpack for easy transport. Plus, hand sanitizers come in a variety of scents so you can find the scent that is most attractive to your child so they’ll enjoy cleaning their hands more regularly.

Disinfectant Wipes

Whether your child is returning to school after a summer vacation or going off to school for the first time, it’s important to make sure they have the tools they need to keep their workspace clean. This is particularly important for children who are older and are switching classes throughout the day as the desks in their classrooms are getting a lot more exposure to different students.

A student’s desk often has more microbes and bacteria than any other location in the classroom. In fact, a study from The Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science found that often, desks are used by multiple students each day but are only thoroughly cleaned once per semester. While it is important to note that exposure to microbes is important for developing a healthy immune system, your child should be encouraged to wipe down their desk as often as possible to help prevent the spread of illness.


Pack a travel pack of tissues in your child’s backpack so they always have a tissue on-hand. This is particularly important as cold and flu season is beginning. Encourage your child to always use a tissue when sneezing or coughing so other children do not get sick. Having their own tissues handy can also help prevent your child from catching any germs from the communal classroom tissue box.

A Change of Clothes

Accidents happen. For younger children, they may happen more often than for older ones. Help your child prepare for an accident at school by packing a change of clothing in their backpack as well as an extra plastic bag to hold any soiled clothing. Some schools or teachers require this at the start of the school year and will even keep your child’s change of clothes in a safe place in the event of an accident.

Prescription Medicines

Your child’s health is of the utmost importance. If they are taking prescription medicines that need to be administered throughout the day, you need to contact your child’s school and ask them where to take the appropriate medicines and forms. Oftentimes, your child will need to report to the nurse’s office to take their medicines as needed. Remember that a school is a drug-free area and you cannot send your child to school with prescription or over-the-counter medicines in their pockets or backpack. If your child has any emergency prescriptions, a few doses of that medicine should be given to the school in case of an emergency as well.

A Healthy Lunch/Snack

One of the best ways to keep your child healthy throughout the school day is to provide them with healthy lunch and/or snack options. For school-age children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting foods that are high in fat and cholesterol. It’s important to pack healthy foods like fresh fruits, chopped vegetables dipped in greek yogurt or hummus, low-fat cheese sticks and low fat milk. Encouraging your children to eat healthy foods throughout the day will boost their immune systems with the nutrients necessary to ward off illness from their classmates. You can learn more about how to provide your child with a balanced diet here.

Emergency Contact List

Many parents pack a list of important contacts in their child’s backpack. This might include the contact information for their parents and/or guardians, their pediatrician, and any other important individuals who should be contacted in case of a medical emergency. This is particularly important for children who have chronic illnesses that may need medical attention at school. By packing this list in your child’s backpack, you can have some peace of mind that your child will be safe and that you’ll be contacted immediately in case of a medical emergency.

While you can pack as much as you want in your child’s backpack, the best thing you can do is stress the importance of healthy habits so they actually use them. Encourage your child to develop healthy eating and hygiene habits. Teach them the importance of keeping their hands clean and of cleaning their desk every now and then. In the event that your child does get sick or to learn more about your child’s health and get helpful tips for keeping your child healthy throughout the school year, contact the professionals at Glen Allen Pediatrics. Dial 804-282-4210 today to make an appointment with an experienced pediatrician who can help you find the perfect routine for your child’s needs.