Daycare doesn’t have to equal a roomful of sick kids. Even though the close confines of a child care center provide ample opportunity for viral and bacterial breeding, you can help to prevent the spread of disease from child to child to your child. Take a look at the steps that can keep your little one healthy all winter long.
Ask About Immunizations
While a vaccine won’t stop the sniffles or some other common childhood illnesses, it can prevent serious, potentially life-threatening bugs. The vaccinations your child gets as an infant can protect them against as many as 14 diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As your child ages, the doctor may recommend additional vaccinations or booster shots. These provide new or ongoing protection. Along with immunizations that offer long-term or life-long immunity, an annual flu shot can also reduce the risks of catching this sometimes severe virus.
Beyond helping your own child to stay safe and healthy, vaccines can reduce illness risks for other people. The more children who are vaccinated, the lower the likelihood that an illness will spread. Known as herd immunity, community-wide vaccination can protect people who can’t get vaccinated (often due to allergies or chronic conditions).
If you’re not sure what immunizations your child should get and when, talk to their medical provider. The pediatrician can also answer common vaccine-related questions and address your concerns.
Your toddler doesn’t understand that teeny-tiny microscopic germs live on their hands, surfaces, and other children. Your child may also still not practice appropriate hygiene techniques – such as sneezing into the crook of their elbow or using a tissue to wipe their nose. Handwashing can help to stop the spread of illness during the daycare day, especially when done correctly.
If the daycare teacher doesn’t routinely instruct the class on proper handwashing techniques, you need to take over and teach your child at home. Remind your child to wash their hands after they sneeze, wipe their nose, cough (into their hands), use the restroom, or eat. They should also wash their hands before they eat.
Along with when to wash their hands, young children also need instruction on how to wash. Practice washing your hands together. The steps should include wetting your hands with warm tap water, lathering with soap, scrubbing the hands for at least 20 seconds (including backs, fronts, and in between the fingers), rinsing with warm running water, and completely drying the hands with a clean towel.
Provide a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can help boost your child’s immunity, reducing the risks of developing some common childhood diseases. Make sure your child eats plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Choose healthy grains, such as whole-wheat bread or multigrain cereal. Along with fruits, vegetables, and grains, your child also needs dairy (such as low-fat milk) and healthy proteins (such as fish, chicken, or beans).
While there’s no magic diet that will keep your child illness-free, some foods may provide added immune system-boosting effects. These include vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, carrots, and strawberries.
Follow Sick Policies
Most child care centers have strict sick policies. These required guidelines are in place for a reason – to keep your child healthy. Likely, the daycare won’t permit children who have a fever (or have had one in the last 24 hours), are vomiting, have diarrhea, have flu symptoms, or have a diagnosed infection (such as the flu or strep throat) to attend.
If your child does have any of these symptoms or just doesn’t feel well, call the pediatrician instead of taking them to daycare. The doctor can evaluate, diagnose, and treat your child, putting them on the road to recovery. A call or visit to the doctor can also help to prevent whatever your child has from spreading through the child care center.
Does your child need vaccinations or medical attention? Contact Willow Oak Pediatrics for more information.