Whenever children are together, there is a chance of spreading infections. As we’ve now entered the Fall season, it’s a common time for illnesses to pop up. This is especially true among infants and toddlers who are likely to use their hands to wipe their noses or rub their eyes and then handle toys or touch other children. These children who touch their noses and rub their eyes causes the virus to go from the nose or eyes of one child via the hands or toys to the next child who then rubs his or her own eyes or nose. Children get sick a lot in the first several years of life as they build their immune systems. Let’s look at some ways that we can help to reduce the risk of illness….

Handwashing is the #1 way to prevent the spread of illness.

How Promote Good Hygiene in Child Care:

It is likely that some infections will be spread in the child care center. For many of these infections, a child is contagious before they show symptoms. This is why it’s imperative to wash hands frequently. You never know when a child or another child is passing a virus or bacteria!

To reduce the risk of disease in childcare, there are certain criteria that promote good hygiene:

  • Teach children how to wash properly for at least 20 seconds and dry their hands.
  • Are there sinks readily available for handwashing? Are the sinks clean and have liquid soap and disposable paper towels so each child will use only his own towel and not share with others?
  • Are children and caregivers instructed to wash their hands throughout the day, including:
    • When they arrive at the facility
    • Before and after handling food, feeding a child, or eating
    • After using the toilet, changing a diaper, or helping a child use the bathroom (Following a diaper change, the caregiver’s and child’s hands should be washed and the diaper- changing surfaces should be disinfected.)
    • After helping a child wipe his nose or mouth or administering First Aid
    • After playing in sand

Copyright November 2019, MN Child Care Health Consultants, Inc.

    • Before and after playing in water that is used by other children (water play tables)
    • Before and after staff members give medicine to a child
    • After handling wastebaskets or garbage
    • After handling a pet or other animal
  • Make sure children understand good hygiene and the importance of hand washing after using the toilet and before and after eating.

Other measures to cut down on the spread of germs:

  • Are toys that infants and toddlers put in their mouthed sanitized before others can play with them?
  • Are all doors and cabinet handles, drinking fountains, all surfaces in the toileting and diapering areas cleaned and disinfected at the end of every day? Are changing tables and any potty chairs being cleaned and disinfected after each use?
  • Review your cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting schedule and make sure staff understand and are in compliance with it.
  • Are staff and other children fully immunized, especially against the flu? The flu vaccine is a seasonal vaccine meaning it needs to be given every year. Recommend to staff and families to get flu shots. This will reduce their chance of getting the flu and if they do get the flu, they will likely have a less severe case if they’ve been vaccinated.
  • Stay home if you are sick! Maintain illness exclusions- there are sometimes that children and staff should not be at child care when they have certain illness or show certain symptoms.

Source: 11/21/2018 Council on Early Childhood (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Copyright November 2019, MN Child Care Health Consultants, Inc.