NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – This year’s deadly flu season has claimed the lives of four more children. A new report from the CDC says the total number of children who have died from the illness is now up to 28.

While experts recommend everyone six months and older get vaccinated to prevent the flu, another way to fight the flu is by simply washing your hands.

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But what about toddlers who aren’t great at hand-washing?

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports that a new study has found that alcohol and hand sanitizers could be more effective.

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that little kids pick up germs everywhere they go, especially toddlers, who’ve been referred to as little petri dishes with feet.

If they’re in day care, there’s lots of opportunities to spread germs and catch lots of colds.

“It snowballs through your family, one gets it and everybody gets it,” local mom Robin Cornelison explained.

The solution? Get the kids to follow CDC recommendations to wash their hands – a lot. It’s easier said than done though.

(Credit: CBS2)

“In this population, they probably just don’t wash their hands very well. It’s a much more complicated situation to put soap on your hands, wring it under the water, if you’re doing it for 20 seconds – as opposed to a squirt of alcohol sanitizer and rub, rub, rub and you’re done,” Dr. Frank Esper of the Cleveland Clinic said.

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You heard right, alcohol hand sanitizer may be better, at least for this age group.

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A recent study in the journal Pediatrics looked at nearly 1,000 daycare pre-school students divided into three groups.

One group did their normal hand-cleaning routine, another was instructed on how to properly wash with liquid hand soap, and the third group used liquid hand sanitizer.

Over an eight-month period, the group of children that used the hand sanitizers had 23 percent fewer respiratory infections.

That’s not a reason to toss your soap and water, both methods are really good at stopping infections. It’s just that young children aren’t very skilled in proper hand-washing. So parents should still teach their kids how to wash their hands to keep them from spreading germs.

“Kids and babies are supposed to get infected. They are and it’s going to happen, but how badly they get infected and how often they get infected is something that can be controlled with good hand hygiene.” Dr. Esper added.

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Moms and dads can set a good example by washing their own hands frequently. It’s also a good idea to supervise hand hygiene routines for very young children.