I will be returning to work soon and plan on enrolling my son in a day-care center. I heard from friends that children get sick more often when they are in day care. What are the most common illnesses my son will be exposed to, and how can I reduce his risk of getting sick?
It is certainly true that children in day care are exposed to a variety of germs that they might not come into contact with at home. These germs can lead to infections like colds, ear infections and diarrhea. Because children’s immune systems are still developing, they are more prone to contracting viruses.
The best way to reduce the risk of infection is to be sure that the staff at the day-care center you choose reinforces positive hygiene behaviors, such as asking the children to wash their hands before eating. At home, be sure that your child eats healthy food, engages in physical activity and gets enough sleep. Establish a routine with your child for consistency. Your child should wake up and go to bed at the same times every day and always eat a balanced breakfast, such as oatmeal with fruit.
In addition, it is important to ensure that measures for proper hygiene are in place at the child-care facility you are planning to use. For example, are toys disinfected regularly? Are gloves worn when diapers are changed? Be sure to ask the day-care center providers questions about their hygiene policies to be certain that they are operating in accordance with your health standards.
It is also important to assess the day-care facility’s policy regarding sick children. For example, with what symptoms must a child stay home? Is a doctor’s note required to verify that a child is well enough to attend the day-care center again? Do not wait until it is too late to find out that the day-care facility you are using has a lax policy regarding sick children.
Furthermore, make sure that your child is up to date on all routine shots and vaccines. While children can still get sick if they are vaccinated, it is less likely, and many childhood illnesses, like the flu or chicken pox, are much less severe if the child has been vaccinated. You will also be doing your part to ensure the health of other families’ children by taking care of your own child.
Remember that while children are exposed to a lot of germs at a day-care center, this type of program offers a number of social advantages. Children learn to share, communicate and develop their social skills at child-care centers. If the proper health precautions are taken, day care can be a positive experience for your child and your family.