How can I keep my child healthy at day care?
It’s natural to be concerned about protecting your child as she’s exposed to new places and people. Maintaining a healthy immune system is her best natural defense.
During your child’s first 12 months, she develops immunities and strengthens her resistance. However, the immune system doesn’t fully develop until children are teenagers, so babies need extra care to keep them healthy.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Breastfeed your child throughout the first year of life. Breastfeeding also fosters an infection-fighting environment in your child’s digestive tract that some experts believe helps explain the reduced incidence of infections and allergies in breastfed babies.
- Keep your child’s immunizations up-to-date. Take your child for regular checkups and make sure her immunizations stay on schedule. Talk to your health care provider about the best immunization schedule for her.
- Allow for rest. Ask your day care provider about when and where your child will nap. Babies and young children generally get their sleep from a combination of nighttime sleep and naps. Without adequate sleep, the immune system weakens, and she becomes more vulnerable. Newborn babies need about 16 hours of sleep per day. After 6 months of age and until your child is 3 years old, the sleep requirement decreases slightly to 10 to 14 hours per day.
- Keep your child's environment clean. Many day care providers successfully limit the spread of colds and flu by frequently washing their hands, as well as the children’s hands, faces, toys, and changing surfaces. Ask about your provider’s policies and adopt their routines.
- Limit your child’s exposure to anyone who’s ill. Child care providers have policies about keeping ill children at home. You may want to monitor how closely this policy is enforced.
- If you formula-feed, consider a formula with beneficial cultures. These beneficial cultures are like those found in breastmilk to help support your child’s healthy immune system.
MEET OUR EXPERTS
Meet Our Experts
The START HEALTHY, STAY HEALTHY™ Resource Center panel of experts offers practical advice, answering many questions typically asked by parents and expecting parents.