Should My Sick Child Go to Daycare Today?

On the day of your most important meeting at work, you get your child dressed and ready to leave for daycare. But then, something stops you. A cough. A fever. A runny nose. Your child may be coming down with something. Should you still take him/her to daycare?

Contact with other children could spread your child’s sickness, not to mention expose your child to other illnesses. However, children get sick – it’s inevitable. And some sicknesses don’t warrant a day out from daycare. So when should you keep your child home?

Signs Your Child Should Stay at Home

There are a few tell-tale signs that might mean you should keep your child home today. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my child have a fever over 100 degrees? If so, your child is sick enough that they should stay home and rest, rather than heading to daycare.

  • Does my child have diarrhea? Diarrhea could be a sign of a contagious illness; you should keep your child home until it subsides.

  • Is my child vomiting? Your child may have some sort of infection or virus. If they’ve vomited at least twice in the last 24 hours, they should stay away from daycare.

  • Does my child have a rash? A rash could be a sign of a contagious illness. Avoid daycare and take your child to the doctor.

  • Does my child have a severe cough? Mild cold symptoms aren’t usually dangerous, but a severe cough warrants a doctor visit and a diagnosis.

Also, if your child has any of the following diseases, keep them home until a doctor has cleared them and they are no longer contagious:

  • Strep throat

  • Bronchitis

  • Whooping cough

  • Croup

  • Pinkeye

  • Chicken pox

  • Impetigo

  • Head lice

Signs Your Child is Okay to Go to Daycare

Children get sick a lot; it’s a fact of life. Many doctors assert that getting sick a few times can be good for children because it can strengthen their immune systems and keep them from getting sick in the future. And besides, there’s no way to keep children sheltered from exposure to every sickness that exists. Thus, if your child has a minor sickness, like a cold, they are typically okay to go to daycare.

If they are on the path to recovery from a more serious sickness, you and your child’s doctor will need to use your best judgment. If you both feel that your child has recovered enough to participate at daycare and is unlikely to pass on their sickness to other kids, then they’re okay to return.

With some diseases, such as impetigo and strep throat, your child is no longer contagious once they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours. Make sure you get a doctor’s note to prove to your daycare that your child is okay to come in.

Create a Backup Plan

This may be the first time you’ve asked yourself the question “Should my sick child go to daycare today?”, but it probably won’t be the last. You should create a backup plan to prevent inconvenience and stress when your child gets sick again.

Here are some steps you should take:

  1. Choose a daycare that cares about hygiene. When you select a daycare for your child, ask how hygiene is stressed. Is the daycare building cleaned regularly? Are kids encouraged to wash their hands? Are parents encouraged to keep sick kids home?

  2. Create a family coping plan. What should you do if your child gets sick? As a family, discuss a potential course of action. Perhaps your spouse can work for half the day and you can work for the other half. Perhaps you have a trustworthy family member, neighbor, or friend who is willing to watch your child. If nothing else, make sure you save your sick days at work so you can take them off if needed.

  3. Choose a family doctor. Find a trustworthy doctor who knows your family and your situation. This doctor should be willing to give you all the facts about your child’s illness, and, when necessary, write a note saying your child is okay to return to daycare.

  4. Set a sick day routine. When your child needs to stay home from daycare, make sure he or she gets enough rest and medical treatment to recover. If your child is allowed to play all day when sick, he or she might not recover as quickly.

Your family backup plan will help you the next time your child catches a nasty bug. Instead of scrambling to figure out what to do, trying to negotiate with your boss, or looking for a sitter, you’ll already have a plan to handle the situation.

Remember, children get sick frequently, and a small cold isn’t cause for alarm. However, if your child has a contagious sickness, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your daycare about what to do in a sick day situation, and make sure to evaluate your child’s symptoms to determine whether he or she should attend daycare.

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