How to Keep Your Kid Safe & Healthy in Childcare
Staying healthy in childcare can be more difficult than it sounds. Kids don’t always love washing their hands, and may not understand that sharing something with a sick friend can lead to contracting the sickness.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take as a parent to limit the risks of your children getting sick in childcare. Take a look at our list to better understand how to keep your little ones healthy and safe around their friends and teachers.
Teaching Your Child to Wash Their Hands
Washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent illnesses and the spread of disease – regardless of age.
Unfortunately, children aren’t known for their impeccable hygiene. It can be hard to make your child understand the consequences of failing to wash their hands.
One of the ways to improve the chances of your children staying healthy in childcare is to reinforce the importance of washing their hands.
Teach by Example
Time for some dirty truths: adults aren’t washing their hands as much as they should be either. Children take most of their direction from their parents and other adult role models, and showing is much better than telling when it comes to hygiene.
Show them that washing their hands is an important step in an adult’s day. Kids want to be like their parents, and seeing you frequently wash your hands indicates that they should do the same.
Have you ever seen a young boy mock-shaving in the mirror with a bladeless razor? Aim for the same result with hand washing.
Make it a Game
Washing your hands isn’t inherently fun, and most people probably aren’t lathering and rinsing for as long as they should be; experts recommend washing your hands for a full 20 seconds.
Teach your children to recite the ABCs or another short song while they wash. You can even have them count to ten, and send them back to do it again if they don’t wash for long enough.
Try to make washing fun if you can, and teach children that five seconds of soap and water isn’t good enough. Washing for the appropriate amount of time can drastically reduce the spread of illnesses in children.
Staying Healthy in Childcare With Immunisation
Making sure your child is properly vaccinated is one of the best ways to ensure they’re staying healthy in childcare. Teaching children to wash their hands can only get them so far, especially when you’re trying to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Some of the vaccines recommended for children include:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b)
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
- Meningococcal ACWY
- DTPa (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis)
These vaccines are common in childcare and have largely eradicated certain diseases in some cases.
Parents who opt not to vaccinate their children are putting their children and other children at risk. However, some children can’t receive certain vaccines because of medical conditions.
Checking for Head Lice
Head lice, or nits, are a big problem in childcare. Again, kids aren’t known for being particularly diligent when it comes to hygiene, and an outbreak of head lice is something almost any school or childcare facility faces.
Although many childcare centres perform routine lice inspections, you should learn how to check for head lice at home to prevent an outbreak at your house.
Check for head lice immediately if your child complains of an itchy head – or if you notice an irregular amount of scratching on their part.
To check for head lice, first get your child’s hair wet to make the nits easier to spot. Take a flashlight and a comb, and use the comb to look through the hair and see if you find any insects.
Head lice are small and brown, and you’ll probably see them moving around as you comb. Make sure you wear gloves to help prevent the head lice from spreading to your own scalp.
You can take your child to a doctor if you find any head lice, but try not to get too close to their head. Lice are very contagious, and it’s easy to contract them yourself if you’re not careful.
A doctor can prescribe you some medicated shampoo to kill the head lice. There are also some over-the-counter medications that can do the trick.
Both parents and childcare centre staff are responsible for identifying sick children. If your child is sick, avoid sending them to a childcare centre, where they can quickly spread their illness to the other children.
Avoid sending your child to school or childcare if they’re sick. It puts other kids and their families at risk, as contagious illnesses can be tough to contain once they come into a childcare environment.
Likewise, teachers and carers should identify sick children and send them home if they can. Sicknesses spread quickly in childcare because of proximity and lack of hygiene. Keeping sick children away from healthy children can stop the viruses from spreading to everyone.