Last Updated on July 30, 2020

How to keep your kid healthy in childcare

Happy children at childcare.

Staying healthy in childcare can be more difficult than it sounds. No matter how hard you try, kids are sharing toys and germs with each other every day, which also means you'll probably let up with a poorly bub at some point.

While you'll never stop the dreaded daycare bugs, there are some steps you can take as a parent to limit the risks of your children getting sick in childcare. Our quick guide has a few tips on how to keep your little ones healthy and safe around their friends and educators.

Step 1: Teach your child to wash their hands

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent illnesses and the spread of germs -- regardless of age.

Yes, children aren't known for their impeccable hygiene and it can be hard to make your child understand why they need to spend a good 20 seconds at the sink washing their hands.

But it's one of the ways to improve the chances of your children staying healthy in childcare. Make it fun, and once they've got the hang of it, they'll have picked up a very useful toddler skill.

Step 2: Get your child to copy your hygiene

Time for some dirty truths: pre-COVID, adults weren't washing their hands as much as they should have been -- and some of us still aren't great at it.

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.

You'll probably notice the times your kids copy you, trying to be an adult. It's fun, and cut and there's no reason you can't do the same with hand washing.

Step 3: Bring games into hygiene

Experts recommend washing your hands for a full 20 seconds, which can be an eternity to an impatient toddler.

So teach your children to recite the ABCs or another short song while they wash. You can even have them count to ten, and count backwards, if they're really adventurous.

Try to make washing fun if you can, and get your child to spend more than a few seconds putting their hand under the tap.

Washing for the appropriate amount of time can drastically reduce the spread of illnesses in children -- and you can use it to fit in a bit of early literacy and numeracy!

Step 4: Keep their immunisations up to date

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.

Make sure you're up to date with your blue book and take advantage of the free flu shot available every winter for your little one. You can't guarantee they won't pick up something unpleasant, but you're doing your bit to minimise the risk to your child and their classmates.

Step 5: Check for head lice

Probably one of the least pleasant parts of parenting, head lice, or nits, can be a big problem in childcare -- and sadly, an outbreak of head lice is something almost any school or childcare facility faces no matter how hygienic they are.

Many childcare centres perform routine lice inspections, but you should also learn how to check for head lice at home to prevent an outbreak at your house.

If your child complains of an itchy head -- or if you notice an irregular amount of scratching on their part -- then it's probably time to take a closer look at their head.

To check for head lice, first get your child's hair wet to make the nits easier to spot. Use a torch (or light from your phone) 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 get 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.

Step 6: Getting ill means staying at home

In the age of COVID, this is one of the most important things you can do -- both for your child and the rest of the daycare centre. If your child is sick, even if it's just a small sniffle, avoid sending them to a childcare centre, where they can quickly spread their illness to the other children.

It puts other kids and their families at risk, as contagious illnesses can be tough to contain once they come into a childcare environment.

It's not easy, especially for working parents, but you're doing the right thing in keeping them at home if there's a sniffle, cough and more snot than normal.

This article is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.