When children enter daycare for the first time, it is not unusual for them to become ill quite frequently. On average, they are exposed to six to twelve different viruses in the first year alone. This is due to the fact that daycares and schools provide conditions that are perfect for the propagation of viruses. Illnesses such as the common cold, stomach bugs, and hand, foot, and mouth disease are easily spread through direct and indirect contact with children who are coughing, sneezing, rubbing their snotty noses, and sharing toys and food. These behaviours can also spread the illness. There is no reason to be concerned about your toddler's immune health so long as he is only developing these common viruses and not more serious bacterial infections like meningitis. However, having a kid who is sick all the time is likely to cause you some headaches.
It can be difficult to protect infants and newborns from catching illnesses, and this can be an even greater challenge if you already have children of school age living in your home. The question then is, how can you stop young children or newborns from getting sick? There are some things that you can do to help protect your family from the germs that your children bring home from school or daycare, even though you won't be able to completely stop them from spreading illness. Sanitizing, regularly washing one's hands, and disinfecting surfaces and doorknobs are all things that can be done to be of assistance.
Why do children get sick from daycare/school?
Children who are allowed to play close to one another in day care centres and schools can easily spread germs to one another. Some of the most common ways in which diseases can be passed from one person to another are through the air, as when an ill child hacks or sneezes, or through direct contact, as when an ill child touches infectious parts of their body and then touches toys or other children, who may then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. Other ways in which diseases can be passed include: coughing, sneezing, and hacking and spitting. Children are encouraged to maintain proper hygiene at daycare centres and schools, which includes keeping their hands clean and ensuring that the toys they play with are also spotless. Precautions are taken to prevent the spread of illness. In addition to this, they isolate children who are showing symptoms of illness from the other children and do not let sick children participate.
At some point during their childhood, the vast majority of children will suffer from a cough, cold, or other mild infection. On the other hand, if a sick child goes to school or child care while they are contagious, there is a possibility that they will pass their illness on to other children or adults. Because of this, it is essential that when your child is sick, you keep them at home, away from child care or school, and that you keep an eye out for early signs and symptoms.
What are the most common schoolyard illnesses?
There is a wide variety of contagious disease that can spread through schools and child care facilities. The majority are relatively minor illnesses that may cause some discomfort. Nevertheless, there are those that are more severe. There are vaccines available for a number of these diseases, and they are included on the Immunisations Schedule for Victoria. For instance:
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal ACWY
Other minor illnesses that could affect children are as follows:
- Ear infections
- Hand Foot and Mouth disease
There is no preventative vaccine available for illnesses such as the common cold, conjunctivitis, or hand, foot, and mouth disease. Children should be kept away from child care facilities and schools until they are no longer infectious, despite the fact that the symptoms of these illnesses are rarely severe.
How Sick is Too Sick?
When your child is ill, the very first choice you will need to make is whether or not they are well enough to continue attending child care. Many children who are suffering from relatively minor illnesses, such as the common cold, are still able to attend child care without endangering either themselves or the other children there.
Before you leave your child with a child care provider for the day, you should always make sure that you have read and understood the provider's policy regarding illness. There are numerous providers who have established clear guidelines regarding sick children, and it is important that these guidelines be followed. A common illustration of this would be the statement, "If your child's nose is running with green or yellow mucous, they should be kept home from school."
There is nothing that is more likely to cause friction between care providers and parents than sending sick children to care when they should have been kept at home, so make sure you are very familiar with the policy and stick to it!
It is a good idea to be prepared for the possibility that your child may become too ill to go to child care and have a back-up plan ready to implement.
Make sure you are aware of the policy your child care provider has regarding sick children, and under no circumstances should you put pressure on your provider to accept your child even if they are sick. Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the child care provider to maintain a healthy environment for all of the other children, staff members, and families associated with the child care service, and they are unable to make exceptions to this rule.
Notifying your child's caregiver of any illness that occurred the previous night is another beneficial practise that you should make a habit of adopting. Numerous children will go to bed exhibiting only mild symptoms, only to wake up after a restful night's sleep in perfect health. However, informing your staff of any concerns the night before may make them more alert to any additional signs of sickness that your child displays while they are at work or school.
When your child has a cold, there are some instances in which it is appropriate to send them to day care; however, there are many situations in which you should keep your little one at home.
Ask yourself the following three questions before making a decision at the beginning of the day:
- Will my child be well enough to comfortably and happily participate in the activities of the day?
- Will my child's care provider be able to care for my child without it affecting their ability to look after the other children?
- Will my child pass the illness on to their playmates if I send them in today?
In addition, if your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, you should always keep them at home until you receive the all-clear from the doctor or until the symptoms begin to subside and the child appears to be well enough to return to care: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, irritability, rash, red eyes, red or watery eyes
- A temperature and fever are accompanied by a behaviour change and other signs of illness such as lethargy, persistent crying or breathing difficulties.
- Signs of severe illness such as uncontrolled coughing, breathing difficulties, wheezing, persistent crying and lethargy.
- A respiratory illness such as bronchitis or influenza.
- Uncontrolled diarrhoea.
- Vomiting, once a child has vomited, most doctors recommend that they should not return to child care for a minimum of 24 hours.
- Any rash, especially when accompanied by a fever or behaviour change. Children with chickenpox can return to child care on the sixth day after their rash appears. Children with impetigo can return to care 24 hours for starting a course of antibiotics, and children with scabies can return to care after they've been treated.
- Mouth sores that cause drooling.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis and yellow discharge from the eye. Your child can return to child care 24 hours after starting a course of antibiotics.
How To Prevent Or Reduce The Likelihood Of Illness
It is highly unlikely that you will be able to completely protect your child from becoming ill; children will invariably be susceptible to developing coughs, colds, and the flu.
The good news is that colds only occasionally result in serious complications. They will make your child feel ill because of them. In most cases, they will feel better in seven to ten days, if not sooner; however, a cough can last for as long as three weeks.
The following are some things that may help relieve the symptoms that your child is experiencing:
- Keeping your child at home to rest can help fight the virus and help your child feel better.
- Encourage your child to drink their usual amount of fluids.
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
When your child has a sore throat, you should have them gargle warm salt water, suck on ice, or use a throat lozenge. Medications that relieve pain, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can be helpful in reducing the discomfort caused by a sore throat. It is not recommended that children take aspirin.
Prevention Is The Best Cure
When trying to stop the spread of illness, one of the most important things to do is to stop the spread of germs. Your child care provider ought to have stringent policies in place regarding how they promote healthy hygiene practises within the centre. However, proper hygiene should begin at home, and it is in your best interest to instil healthy behaviours in your child at the earliest age possible. Some examples of such behaviours include the following:
- Covering their mouths when sneezing or coughing.
- Keeping their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth.
- Using tissues to blow their nose and throwing them in the bin after use.
- Washing their hands with soap and running water.
Does My Child Need Antibiotics?
It is a common misconception that taking antibiotics will hasten a person's recovery from a cold or the flu, despite the fact that it may be tempting to ask your doctor for antibiotics for your sick child in these situations.
When treating your child's cold or flu symptoms with antibiotics, you are contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are only effective against infections that are brought on by bacteria; therefore, improper use of antibiotics paves the way for bacteria to develop resistance, both in your child and in the community as a whole. In the long run, this will result in their inability to function when we require them to do so. Learn more about the dangers of antibiotic resistance.
However, it is imperative that you consult your child's physician if the symptoms are not showing signs of improvement.
The Tricky Issue Of Ear Infections
During his first year at daycare, my son was diagnosed with multiple cases of ear infections. Because Dr. Google provided conflicting answers, it was difficult for me to determine whether or not antibiotics would be helpful.
Antibiotics are recommended to be used routinely in children with ear infections between the ages of two and twelve years old by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. This is due to the fact that the majority of ear infections will resolve themselves within a couple of days.
However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are at a higher risk of complications and should be treated early, so make sure you check in with your health professional. These children should be treated as soon as possible.
It is imperative that you seek professional medical advice and bring your child in for an examination if the symptoms are not showing signs of improvement. In this scenario, your physician might recommend a brief course of antibiotics to treat the infection.
Infants and Illnesses
When we are exposed to a pathogen, the immune system of our body goes into action to protect us from contracting that pathogen as an adult. Unfortunately, the immune systems of infants have not matured enough to allow them to successfully fend off illnesses on their own. RSV, also known as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is one of the viruses that affects infants and newborns the most frequently. Why is this virus so prevalent in infants during the time of year when other illnesses are prevalent? RSV can infect older children as well as adults, frequently without causing any symptoms. The virus can be passed on to infants through the air via a simple cough or sneeze.
If your infant shows symptoms of RSV, the diagnosis can be verified with a simple nasal swab performed by the paediatrician caring for your child. Sneezing, green nasal discharge, congestion, coughing, rapid breathing (more than 60 breaths per minute), and difficulty crying are some of the warning signs that you should be on the lookout for in your infant. It is common practise to admit infants to the hospital so that they can be monitored through the worst of their illness.
What vaccinations does my child need before starting child care or school?
Vaccinations offer the best defence against serious diseases and illnesses that are currently available. Through the Immunisation Schedule Victoria, there are a number of vaccinations that are recommended for children that can be received for free in the state of Victoria. Among these are the vaccinations that are encouraged by the National Immunization Program.
If you are unsure which vaccines your child needs or may have been missing, you should consult with your child's primary care physician or an immunisation provider.
Before enrolling or attending an approved early childhood service, you may be required to provide documentation that the immunisation status of your child is current at a number of childcare facilities. An immunisation history statement can either be an official record issued by the Australian Immunisation Register or a letter from your general practitioner or another recognised immunisation provider. This statement is used to determine whether or not a child's immunisation status is up to date.
Prevention is Better than Cure
When trying to stop the spread of illness, one of the most important things to do is to stop the spread of germs. Your child care provider ought to have clear policies outlining the steps that can be taken to encourage good hygiene among the children in their care. However, proper hygiene begins in the home, and it is in your best interest to instil healthy behaviours in your child at the earliest age possible.
You can help slow the spread of germs and, hopefully, reduce your child's incidence of illness by encouraging your child to adopt the healthy behaviours listed below.
- Wash your hands regularly: while most children are taught to wash their hands after going to the toilet, children should also be encouraged to wash their hands when they are dirty, before and after eating, after messy activities and when they do anything which puts them in contact with potentially germy objects such as animals.
- Cover your mouth when coughing: uncontrolled coughing and sneezing quickly spread germs around an area. Children should be taught to cover their coughs with whatever they can. While a tissue might not be handy when the urge to cough comes on, children can cough into their hands and wash them or into the crook of their arm or sleeve.
- Avoid close contact with sick people: when someone in the family is sick, make sure the above two rules are strictly applied to avoid germs within the family.
A Note about Colds and Flu
Because they are constantly in contact with other children, kids who go to daycare are more likely to catch colds and the flu during the winter. Therefore, despite the fact that it may be tempting to dose your little one up with the most recent concoction that is available at the pharmacy, it may be more effective to try trying lots of cuddles, liquids, and bed rest instead. A recent study that was carried out by an American think tank known as the Cochrane Library revealed that many of the over-the-counter treatments for the common cold and flu that are marketed as being beneficial for children have little to no effect.
In the course of the investigation, we looked into various machines that modify the atmosphere in your child's bedroom, such as vaporizers and dehumidifiers, and we came to the conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest that these machines are effective.
The researchers also investigated cough medicines that contain antihistamines and found that there was no difference in the recovery rate of children who were treated with the medicine compared to those who weren't treated with the medicine.
The study came to the conclusion that children who are generally healthy will recover on their own within a few days, and that parents need to be prepared for their children to get sick during the winter months.
The only surefire way to keep your children from falling ill is to ensure that they wash their hands frequently throughout the day (or ask their caregiver to do so on their behalf when you can't be there) and to instruct them in proper hand hygiene as soon as they are old enough to understand it.
It's a good idea to begin by instructing children to sneeze into their elbows or "dab" their noses. When they are at the park and there is no sink available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also do the trick. However, the most effective ways to boost your child's immunity are to ensure that they get enough sleep, engage in plenty of physical activity, and consume a diet that is nutritionally sound. There is no evidence that dietary supplements or individual foods that claim to boost immunity actually do what they claim to do.
The good news is that once you get through this difficult first year (which is usually more difficult for the parents than it is for the child! ), your child's immune system has been given a significant boost. The University of Montreal conducted a study that found that toddlers who participate in group child care are more likely to become ill than toddlers who remain at home. However, the same children in the study were found to become ill less frequently than their peers during the primary school years. Although it might feel like an eternity, it is not actually forever. Best of luck!
FAQs About Prevent Getting Sick From Daycare
Young children who are in daycare very often get frequent upper respiratory tract infections, including colds and secondary ear infections. In fact, experts estimate that the average child gets six to eight viral upper respiratory tract infections each year.
Family day care is where a child is educated in a small group in a family style atmosphere at an educator's home, seeing the same educator or educators each day. ... The educator's children must be counted in those seven children if they are under 13 years and not being cared for by another adult at the premises.
Immunity obtained in day care protects a child from colds later in life," he says. "But it also shows that whether children acquire immunity in preschool or elementary school, by the time they are 13, they seem to have similar levels of protection from viruses."
Conclusions Attendance at large daycare was associated with more common colds during the preschool years. However, it was found to protect against the common cold during the early school years, presumably through acquired immunity. This protection waned by 13 years of age.
They will usually get better in 7-10 days – if not earlier, although a cough can last up to 3 weeks. Here are some things to help relieve your child's symptoms: Keeping your child at home to rest can help fight the virus and help your child feel better. Encourage your child to drink their usual amount of fluids.