According to the Academy of Pediatrics, kids between the age of 1 and 3 can get up to 12 colds a year. Symptoms can last up to two weeks, so with two kids (…multiply times 2, carry the 1…)
It’s a good thing it is a leap year because according to my calculations, my kids will be healthy for exactly one week in 2012!!
We all know kids are germ factories and pass these lovely germs to each other, between siblings, at the playground and mostly at school. But with seemly never-ending illness in young children, just when IS it ok to send them to school or daycare?
Colds are the most common in this age group and symptoms can last two weeks. Kids are the most contagious between day 3-5. Contrary to popular belief, colds are contagious no matter the color of the mucus (darn! That was always my excuse!) and they remain contagious the entire time symptoms are present. You can’t keep them home for two weeks, so the best bet, good hygiene and frequent hand washing, but avoid contact with other kids at the peak of the illness.
A fever of 100.4 or higher is symptom of a viral infection, like the flu. You should keep your child home and he should stay home until he has been fever free (without medication) for 24 hours.
A mild cough is ok to head to school. A severe cough warrants a trip to the doctor as it could be bronchitis, the flu or pneumonia. But as soon as the bad cough subsides, school is fine, you don’t have to wait for the cough to disappear completely – that could take a week or longer!
Diarrhea or Vomiting
Keep your child home until the illness is over and for at least 24 hours after the last episode. But, some virus that cause vomiting and diarrhea can be shed in the stools for up to a month after the illness. Make sure all caregivers who change diapers or who help preschoolers wipe practice extremely good hand washing.
A mild sore throat is usually not a problem, but a severe sore throat could be strep. Children should stay home until they have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.
Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
Children should stay home until given the ok by their doctor. Pink eye is VERY contagious and is usually viral, which can’t be treated with antibiotics.
A doctor should see a child with a rash. Other than common diaper rash (which even that can turn into a staph infection), skin rashes can be contagious and some require antibiotic treatments.
A few more tips:
- For the most part, if a kid feels well and is acting normal, she can go to school, even with a runny nose.
- Always check with your daycare provider or school for their specific sick policies.
- If a child seems lethargic or ultra clingy, keep them home.
- Trust your gut, you know your child; when they can power on and when they cant.