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September 18, 2023

Tips for navigating daycare germs

Prevention Germs

Content sponsored by IBC-Native-091823-DayCareGerms

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Sending your child to daycare for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. As you prepare your little one for this new chapter, you should brace yourself for the inevitable bouts of sickness and the high likelihood that those germs will find their way to you.

While at daycare, kids spend the day interacting closely and sharing toys, all while practicing less-than-optimal hygiene habits. And some children may not have developed immunities to many of the illnesses they’ll encounter yet. This makes group childcare settings a perfect breeding grounds for infections.

Bringing germs home

A study by University of Utah researchers found that the more children there are in a household, the more likely it is that someone in the house will be infected with a respiratory virus. This may hold especially true if your child is exposed to many other kids at daycare on a daily basis.

But respiratory illnesses aren’t the only diseases that are common at daycare centers. Infections that make children vomit and/or give them diarrhea are also typical. So are bug infections such as head lice and scabies; hand, foot and mouth disease; and pinkeye.

That may make you want to keep your child at home until adulthood or send them to daycare in a Haz-Mat suit, but don’t worry — there is a silver lining! A study published in 2010 found that being exposed to an infection seems to help young children develop an immunity, reducing their chance of catching it again even a few years later.

Keeping your kids healthy

The most important thing you can do to keep your children healthy is make sure they have all the vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And once your children are six months old, make sure they get annual flu shots.

Teaching your kids to practice good hygiene is also an effective way to avoid spreading germs. While this may seem like a lost cause, research has shown that children as young as four are capable of learning how germs are spread and using that knowledge to keep themselves healthy.

Protecting yourself from sickness

Practicing good hygiene yourself — especially washing your hands — will help keep you from getting sick when your child is not feeling well. You should also try to avoid touching your face; wash your face nightly; and resist the urge to clean your child’s toys until your child is healthy again. Eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are also key to keeping your own immune system strong.

To prevent your child from infecting others, don’t let them share anything with anyone else in the house, especially food and utensils. You should also try to wash their towels daily and disinfect any surfaces they touch, such as toilet handles, faucets, and doorknobs.

The reality

When it comes to germs, what happens in daycare doesn’t stay in daycare. It's very common for children in childcare settings to get sick and then infect other people in their homes. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk for yourself, your kids, and other family members.

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