Ways To Avoid Day Care Germs

Do you drop your kids to a day care centre often? Well, here's what you need to know about the germ onslaught your kid might be exposed to. Take a look at some simple tips to avoid germs.

By Sahana Charan

Ways To Avoid Day Care Germs
Germs spread easily among kids in daycare facilities

Working parents, who depend on childcare facilities outside the home, often worry about their children picking up infections at day care centres. A few precautions can keep the little ones healthy.

In this age of nuclear families, a couple that works full-time may not have a support system to lean on when it comes to taking care of their child. That is why, having a nanny or choosing a day care centre becomes inevitable. Yet, many parents may be uncomfortable with the idea due to safety and hygiene concerns. 

These are some common concerns among parents around day care centres:

“What if my child gets an infection at the childcare facility?”

“Will the day care look after my little one if she suddenly falls sick?”

“I refused to put my son in a day care centre when he was a toddler, despite the fact that both me and my spouse worked long hours at the time and had limited support. We ended up spreading ourselves thin, constantly juggling tasks, taking turns and depending on family members.”

It does not have to be like that. I know many parents, who depend on childcare facilities and are better off because of it. Choosing a facility with care, communicating your concern to the day care management and taking hygiene precautions can go a long way in keeping your little one healthy.

Take necessary precautions

There is no doubt that small children are vulnerable to allergies and respiratory infections, especially in a confined space with many young people. The most common infections that children are vulnerable to in daycare centres include:

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Acute gastroenteritis that may cause diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Viral infections
  • Skin problems and ear infections.

In the study, ‘Day care attendance and respiratory tract infections: a prospective birth cohort study in 2017’ published by the British Medical Journal, analysed this issue in detail. According to it, an increase in asthma and allergy was related to out-of-home care, but there was a decrease in infections after a follow-up time of about nine months.

“If any child at day care is suffering from an infection, the staff should request the child’s parents to seek medical opinion and treatment. It is advisable not to send him to day care for 2–3 days, to avoid passing it on to others,” says Dr Peeyoosh Rankhamb, Consultant, Paediatrics and Neonatology at Motherhood Hospitals, Kharghar.

He adds that parents must check the cleanliness of the centre while paying a visit. You should look for whether the members of the staff are trained to care for sick children and handle emergencies and whether they themselves maintain personal hygiene.

Paranoid parents

Parents are often paranoid about germs and become obsessed with hygiene, not allowing their little ones to play with mud or mingle with other children. Medical experts will tell you that children are prone to infections in the early years, either at home or when going to a day care centre. And, that it may not be a good idea to always keep them in an extremely sanitised environment. After all, didn’t the wise say that playing in the mud and sand builds immunity?

Steps to reduce infection

The onus falls on you to ensure that your child stays healthy and away from germs in a day care environment. One of the most important things is to get your child vaccinated. Here’s what else you can do before enrolling your child in a day care:

  • Check the staff to children ratio at the centre and if they pay adequate attention to every child.
  • Ensure that the place is not overcrowded.
  • Check if there is considerable effort to keep the place clean and bright.
  • Check whether the toilets are cleaned and disinfected regularly.
  • Ensure there are adequate sinks available for children to wash their hands.
  • Ensure the kitchen area is well-maintained and the food given to the children is handled properly.
  • Check if diaper-changes are done at regular intervals and potty seats kept clean.
  • Enquire if the staff insists that children wash their hands after going to the toilet, before eating and after playing in the mud/sand pit.
  • Check if the toys and other items are cleaned properly.
  • Make sure that the centre is well-equipped to handle medical problems (have trained staff, medical kit, emergency numbers etc).
  • Ensure that all safety measures are in place.

Parents must establish a routine so that the child washes her hands and feet after coming back from day care, and changes into clean clothes. Parents should set an example at home by stressing upon healthy habits.

5 things children must not do in day care:

  • Eat or handle food without washing hands.
  • Touch toys or other objects immediately after using the potty seat or going to the toilet.
  • Constantly put their hands or other objects in their mouths.
  • Come in close contact with other children or persons who may have an infection.
  • Cause injury to other children at day care.

In urban settings, day care centres are important cogs in the wheel of child rearing. All you need is a little foresight and a positive outlook to keep your child healthy and happy.

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