5 tips to keep your kids healthy at daycare

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Many parents worry about their children’s health once they start daycare. In this environment, viruses can easily spread from one child to the next as they play and share toys and food. To ease your anxiety, here are five tips to guide you when checking out your child’s daycare centre (or prospective daycare centre):

  1. Observe the facility

    When you visit the centre, take note of the surroundings, facilities, the general mood of the children, as well as the number of staff you see watching over the kids. You can ask the centre manager/director to give you a tour of the place to see the facilities first hand. Before you go, it will be helpful to print out this checklist from the Child Care Information Services, Manitoba.ca to guide you on what to look for and the questions to ask when you visit a child care facility: Checklist for visiting a licenced child care.

  2. Check their hygiene routines

    You can observe or ask the daycare centre director if staff members follow certain protocols for hand washing especially when they change diapers, handle feeding, or when they assist kids after using the restroom, wiping their runny noses, etc. See if they use soaps or hand sanitizers, and if their rooms are equipped with an easily accessible sink. Also, observe the areas where they serve and prepare meals. Check if the areas are clean and if the staff are properly attired (aprons, hairnets, and gloves).

  3. Be clear about regulations and standards on their “sick policy”

    Know more about the centre’s regulations about handling sick children and how these are enforced. Centres usually provide a list of symptoms that tell parents when they should keep kids at home (e.g. fever of more than 38.3 Celcius/100F, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, etc.). Some even have exclusion policies where they set a certain number of days before a child who has had a certain illness can return (for instance, a seven-day exclusion policy for chicken pox). Aside from this, find out how they handle kids who get sick on the premises, and what supports are available for such instances. If the facility has a “Parent Policy Manual”, make sure to get a copy.

  4. Talk to the facility’s director/manager about daycare standards

    Aside from health and safety regulations, ask the director or manager about their staff’s training and support. Some day care centres have health consultants that check and update standards, as well as continuously train staff. The centre’s communication policy is another aspect you should find out about. Do they have guidelines and procedures for informing parents when there are medical emergencies? Do they update parents about any changes in daycare operations? Do they have an open-door communication policy with parents?

  5. Boost your child’s immunity

    The best shield against sickness is to boost your child’s immunity. A diet high in fruits, vegetables and iron-rich foods, together with ample sleep, are the keys to a strong immune system (7 ways to boost your child’s immunity by Sandra Gordon for Parents Magazine). Consult your doctor for vitamins or supplements if you want to be certain that your kids are getting enough nutrients. And while at the doctor’s office, make sure that their subsequent vaccinations are up to date. It also important to train your child (for your toddlers and older kids) proper hygiene, such as washing their hands often, not picking their nose, covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze, and not putting toys or other objects in their mouths when they play.

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Community Resources

For more information about child care, Manitoba’s policies on child care, or financial assistance for child care fees, go to A Guide to Child Care in Manitoba or contact Child Care Information Services at 204-945-0776, toll-free 1-888-213-4754 or email cdcinfo@gov.mb.ca.

For free parenting programs, resources, support groups and other programs that promote family health and well-being, you can go to these links for more information: Winnipeg Health Region.ca Health Parenting and Early Childhood Development, MOSAIC Family Programs, Manitoba Aboriginal Head Start/Aboriginal Health & Wellness Centre of Winnipeg.

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5 tips to keep your kids healthy at daycare

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