A class filled with smiling faces can quickly become a room filled with sad, sniffly noses unless you know how to protect kids from daycare illnesses.
Sharing is great, but not when it comes to germs. The toys that are passed around during playtime are just one of the many ways a kid in your daycare center can get classmates sick. Fortunately, you can fight daycare sickness by following these four helpful tips for preventing illness in child care settings.
1. Encourage Flu Shots
The flu is a virus that causes fever, chills, and other unpleasant symptoms. The kids at your daycare should get vaccinations during each flu season to avoid this nasty bug. Since babies under the age of 6 months cannot receive a flu shot, older kids and caregivers must be vaccinated so they will not spread the flu. The more kids who are vaccinated, the less chance there is of sickness at your daycare. Be sure to explain why these vaccines are necessary to parents. A policy that requires flu shots is the sign of a safe daycare, and you should be proud of this fact. Parents should also be happy that a vaccinated child means they will not be bringing daycare sickness home.
2. Sanitize Dirty Surfaces
As a daycare worker, you probably deal with your fair share of messes. Bathrooms, nap mats, and lunch tables often need cleaning multiple times a day. However, you must be aware of all the places germs like to hide. Door knobs, faucets, and water fountains all need attention to prevent daycare illnesses. While cleaning removes visible dirt or debris, using a safe sanitizing solution kills germs that could otherwise live for days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer great tips on keeping your daycare clean and illness-free.
3. Wash Hands Often
Your daycare should have a documented handwashing policy to fight the spread of germs. The best tips for handwashing in a child care setting include using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. According to eXtension.org, you should encourage children, parents, and daycare workers to wash their hands:
- • After arriving at the daycare center
- • Before and after eating or preparing food
- • Before and after providing medications
- • After using the bathroom or changing a diaper
- • After wiping noses, mouths, sores, or cuts
- • After cleaning up bodily fluids
- • After playing outdoors
- • After touching animals
- • After noticing hands look dirty
4. Send Sick Kids Home
Even if you follow these tips, some sick kids may still arrive at daycare. Symptoms can develop quickly, and even a careful parent may drop off a child who is ill. If you notice runny noses, coughing, fever, or other signs of illness, you must act quickly. A virus or infection can easily spread to their healthy classmates. If you have a sick room, that child should spend the rest of the day away from the other kids, and a daycare worker should treat their symptoms
Ideally, a parent should be able to pick up a sick child early and reduce the risk of spreading germs to others. Parents should be sensitive to their kid’s need for rest and be careful not to send them back to daycare before they have fully recovered. In fact, there is a standard 24-hour waiting period before children who are getting over fevers can return to daycare centers. This policy not only prevents the spread of illness but ensures that kids feel well enough to participate in fun activities.
If you are interested in training courses that explore topics such as preventing illness in child care settings, sign up for classes at Naptime Academy. Watch a single course or sign up for a year to earn your state-required clock hours of training. For more information, contact Naptime Academy at 866-377-6824.