If your child is in daycare, he's probably sick more times than you care to think about. According to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician and author of Seattle Children's Hospital's Seattle Mama Doc blog, here are 6 things you can do to prevent your kid from catching a bug.
1. Boost immunity. Experts agree that a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and iron-rich foods as well as plenty of sleep are key to a strong immune system. If you're concerned your child isn't getting enough iron, speak with your pediatrician about an iron supplement.
2. Insist on clean hands. Daycare staff should wash their hands frequently throughout the day and especially before feedings, after checking or changing diapers, after eating or using the restroom, and after wiping runny noses, spit up, or drool. If you have concerns, visit or stay for a bit to see if the staff are washing their hands thoroughly and using hand sanitizer correctly.
3. Understand the sick policy. Most facilities require parents to pick up their child if he has a fever yet so many infections are contagious before fever onset and after fever resolution. Be sure you understand and agree with the daycare's policy and find out if it's being enforced.
4. Advocate for vaccines. Your daycare probably required your child's immunization record before he could attend, yet many don't follow up with parents to make sure subsequent vaccines are up to date. Some states have a database to look up a child's records, but if it's not something your daycare does, advocate to make it happen.
5. Control cross-contamination. Your infant puts everything in his mouth and at daycare, that same toy he just picked up has been in every other child's mouth as well. Contamination is inevitable, but there are things the daycare can do to keep things clean. For example, the sink the staff uses to wash their hands after changing diapers, shouldn't be the same sink where bottles are prepared.
6. Ask about regulations, standards, and more. Daycare facilities are required to adhere to licensing regulations yet it varies by state. If your daycare is accredited by a national professional organization, they may have standards that include health and safety practices that go above and beyond state regulations. Be sure to ask the director what their policies are and if the staff have regular training and support.
For more advice, check out Seattle Mama Doc's blog.