How to Minimize Illnesses and Infections from Daycare

“We are about to transition our 16 mo old to daycare. We’ve been told to expect her to get sick often. Can we use any supplements, vitamins or probiotics? Any other tips to keep her well and happy during this transition?”

– Cassandra

Dear Cassandra,

I like daycare for children. The socialization is great for them! I find kids really enjoy being around other kids and like the stimulation.

One of the downsides of daycare is that your child will get sick more often. It’s going to happen no matter what you do. And while that can be difficult at first, there is a big upside: frequent infections help children build up stronger immune systems. Daycare kids don’t miss as much school later on because they have been exposed to more colds and germs.

There is not any magic supplement that will prevent children from getting sick. But, there are some basic things you can do to help boost their immune systems and reduce the chance of infection.

Eat Well, Sleep Well

In general, you want to make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and eats a healthy diet.

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help the immune system. They’re also important for gut health. So, with a healthy diet, there should be no need for probiotics.

When and if your child does end up being prescribed antibiotics, I recommend probiotics to replace the good bacteria in your GI system (I like Culturelle Probiotics).

Sleep is also essential to healthy growth and development in children of all ages, but especially in infants and toddlers. Sleep is the time your body uses to recover, repair, and grow. So make sure your child is getting good sleep.

Hygiene

Hand hygiene is perhaps the most important way to reduce the chances of children getting sick.

I work with sick kids everyday and avoid getting sick by washing my hands constantly. I wash before I examine a child to protect the child and I wash afterwards to protect myself.

Washing children’s hands after they touch anything germy or before they touch their mouths is almost impossible. I don’t recommend trying it. In fact, I actually want your kid to get exposed to germs. We know that growing up in a “sterile” environment is actually associated with higher rates of autoimmune disease.

The body’s immune system will fight something – either a germ or itself. I prefer it to fight off germs.


The initial transition might be challenging, but it will get better. You kids are going to get sick. And the earlier this happens in life, the more resilient they will be when they start kindergarten!

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