If your child already attends childcare, you’ll probably be familiar with the frequent snotty noses and occasional bugs they bring home. Unfortunately, these are very common, especially for children who are new to the childcare environment. In fact, it happens to so many children that parents have coined it Daycare Syndrome: the cycle of illnesses that results in parents having to keep their sick children at home.
Read more about why your child gets sick in childcare, and what you can do to manage this.
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Why children get sick in childcare
Children who start going to childcare are in contact with other children much more compared to when they’re home, so it should come as no surprise that sometimes they’ll catch a sniffle off each other. Young children’s library of infections are limited, and they have a lower resistance to germs. This is why children who have just started daycare are especially susceptible to contracting infections.
There’s a misconception that this is entirely related to the centre’s cleanliness. Yes, there are some things that the centres can do to help prevent the spread of infections such as regularly sanitising their toys, carrying out good hygiene practices and maintaining their general level of cleanliness. But apart from that, there’s not much else they can do. This is just a normal process of adjusting to childcare life.
What you can do about it
While it’s unfortunately impossible to avoid illness entirely when your child goes to childcare, there are some simple things you can do to nip it in the bud, or at least ease the impact once it hits.
Teach children good hygiene practices
The reason why germs are so easily spread in childcare is because young children constantly put their hands in their mouths and then touch toys, furniture, and pretty much every other object they can reach! This is why teaching your child proper and frequent hand-washing will go a long way toward stopping the spread of infection. For older children, teach them to also cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze.
Keep sick children at home
Most parents will agree that when children are sick, they should be kept at home. Sounds simple, but we understand that in reality, it may not be. Keeping your sick children at home means you’ll have to take time off work, which can pose its own challenges. So how sick is too sick for childcare?
It’s important to read and follow your childcare’s policy. Your childcare policy should have strict guidelines on which symptoms require exclusion from childcare, and for how long. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, and rash usually call for at least a 24-hour exclusion period.
If your little one is sniffling and sneezing due to a cold, you can technically still bring them to childcare. However, maybe consider these things: Would they be able to play comfortably in that condition? Are they well enough to participate in group activities? Would they pass on their cold to the other children? If their condition would hinder them from happily engaging in activities, then sending them to childcare could possibly make them even sicker. If you’re unsure, it’s always advisable to call the centre and have an honest conversation with them.
Ensure your child’s immunisation is current.
It’s important to make sure your child’s immunisation status is up-to-date for their age. Also, don’t forget to regularly attend your child’s periodic medical check-up at the doctor or maternal child health nurse, to ensure your child is healthy and developing well. This is also a great opportunity for you to ask your doctor or nurse for more information regarding infection control in childcare.
While children who go to childcare tend to catch more illnesses early on, they also seem to build up their resistance and strengthen their immune systems over time. According to many parents whose children attended childcare, these children get sick a lot less compared to other children (who never attended childcare) during primary school. So when your bub comes down with yet another flu, think about the little army of antibodies they’re building up now that will guard them later on in life!
If you’re ever worried about your child’s health, be sure to seek medical attention or go to your family doctor.