If your child is spending time around other children, chances are, he’s going to be exposed to lots of germs. While the spread of all germs can’t be prevented, parents and caregivers can take some practical steps to help their kids stay healthy.
To prevent the spread of germs, parents and caregivers should have a clear understanding of the steps it takes for germs to spread.
Step 1: Germs are introduced into the environment by an ill child or caregiver.
Step 2: The germs successfully survive in the environment. Some germs live in the air, some in water, some on surfaces, some in feces and some in food.
Step 3: Another child then comes into contact with the germs by touching, breathing or eating something that’s been infected. Hand shaking, toy sharing and food sharing are common ways children become infected.
Step 4: The cycle repeats.
Parents and caregivers can help keep their children stay healthy by following these four tips.
1. Teach your child how to properly wash their hands. Children should rinse their hands under running water. They should then place liquid soap in their hands. Next, they should vigorously run their hands together, cleaning all areas of their hands, including under their fingernails. Children should then rinse their hands under running water and turn off the water using a clean paper towel. Children can be encouraged to sing a song while washing their hands so they can be sure to take enough time cleaning up. Caregivers should wash the hands of younger children and babies throughout the day.
2. Parents should encourage caregivers to be proactive. Talk to your caregivers about the importance of washing their hands throughout the day and of keeping hand sanitizer handy. Ask them to help keep your child healthy by disinfecting toys that have been in the children’s mouths.
3. Encourage your caregiver to stay home if she is sick and keep your child home from activities if he is sick. If you want to stop the vicious cycle, ask your caregiver to let you know when she is feeling sick. Have a backup plan in place. Family Helpers can assist you in securing backup childcare should your caregiver be unable to work. Instruct caregivers to keep your child home if they aren’t feeling well.
4. Consider vaccinating. Many childhood illnesses and communicable diseases can be prevented by immunizations. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the pros and cons of vaccinations.
While there’s no guarantee we can keep our children germ free, we can follow a few simple precautions to increase their chances of staying healthy.