limiting germ risks child care

Limiting Germ Risks in Child Care Settings

December 26, 2023
Limiting Germ Risks in Child Care Settings

There are a few things that simply come with the territory when it comes to young children, and the possible spread of germs is definitely among them. And while some germ presence and spread is unavoidable among children of various ages, there are also some basic ways to limit this spread as much as possible, particularly during the heaviest cold and flu season that we're currently entering. 

At First Steps Childcare & Preschool, we're proud to offer a wide range of child care and educational programs for families around Salt Lake City, including everything from infant and toddler programs through preschool classes, and more. Germ prevention is an important topic for us, and one that we have strong and robust programs for within our facilities. Here are some basics on how to limit germ spread to the best of our abilities when it comes to children this winter. 

Accepting Some Level of Germ Contact

First and foremost, as we alluded to above, parents of young children do need to accept that some level of germ contact is simply unavoidable during the winter months. Kids are in close quarters with one another and often don't practice the same levels of hygiene as adults, so there is simply going to be some spread present at times. 

Now, this doesn't mean you should simply throw your hands up and do nothing - far from it. You should still take basic precautions to limit spread where possible, as we'll go over in this piece. It simply means that you shouldn't be overly alarmed when minor illnesses inevitably crop up among children at a young age during the winter.

Hand Washing

The single most important factor here is hand-washing, which is easily the most effective method for reducing germ spread. Make sure your child knows how to wash their hands properly, including using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. This should be done after going to the bathroom or before eating, at minimum.

For children who are very young, teach them the basic concepts of hand-washing and then reinforce it yourself by washing their hands for them when they may forget. This will help instill good habits early on.

Covering Coughs and Sneezes

Another important element here is teaching children to properly cover their coughs and sneezes - suggesting they do so into a tissue or their elbow rather than simply into the air or onto their hands. This helps limit germ spread through physical contact.

This habit can be taught by modeling the behavior yourself and encouraging your child to do the same. You can even make a game out of it, such as pretending to be superheroes using their capes (tissues) to block germs.

Staying Home When Sick

While we understand that many working parents have limited options when it comes to staying home with sick children, we strongly recommend keeping children home when they are showing signs of illness. This helps prevent the spread of germs to other children and staff members at our facility.

We also have policies in place for when children become sick while at our facility, including identifying symptoms and contacting parents for pickup. We appreciate your cooperation with these policies to keep all children healthy.

Encouraging Healthy Habits

It's important to encourage good overall health habits in children to help prevent illness. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and staying physically active. A strong immune system is one of the best defenses against germ spread.

Helping Children Understand Why

Throughout these various steps and policies, it's important to help children understand why certain actions are being taken. This will not only encourage compliance, but also help them develop good habits for the future.

For instance, when instructing them to cover their coughs and sneezes, explain that it helps prevent the spread of germs to others. When teaching proper hand-washing techniques, explain how washing with soap and warm water helps remove germs from their hands.

While some level of germ contact is unavoidable among young children, there are still many steps we can take to limit its spread and promote a healthier environment for everyone. Thank you for partnering with us in this effort at First Steps Childcare & Preschool - and feel free to contact us at your convenience about this or any of our child care programs and services for SLC families!

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