9 ways to manage the dreaded flu season at daycare, according to an expert.

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I don’t know about you, but in my house, there are certain things you just don’t say. 

I’m talking about, "Oh, the toddler's been sleeping well lately," or, "Toilet training will be a breeze." You don’t just blurt out things like that because toddlers have a secret sense that gets triggered any time parents start to feel like they’ve got it together. The same goes for daycare sickness. Ask any parent and they’ll know not to be foolish enough to say, “Oh, we haven’t had a daycare bug for a while!” lest the cold and flu overlords hear them and smite them with the sniffles.

Of course, as comforting as it may be, superstition won’t get us far in preventing the dreaded daycare lurgies from hosting all-night raves in our houses this winter. So, I’m turning to the experts. Because the fight against cold and flu season may just be beginning, but this time, we’re going to be ready…

Image: Supplied.


How to prevent daycare bugs from following your child home.

1. Vaccination is your first line of defence.

Hayley Foruria, a registered pharmacist from Ramsay Pharmacy says the cold and flu season usually starts as we head into the winter months, but over the last few years, it’s been hitting even earlier. 

"So, all Ramsay pharmacies have received their flu vaccines, and we're ready to vaccinate the community," she says. Getting the latest flu vaccine is the first step in preventing the worst of what the season has to offer, and it’s available for children six months and above.

In terms of timing, Foruria says anywhere from the start of April is a good time to book in. "A lot of people are wanting to get the vaccine before they go on school holidays or travel just to make sure they have that immunity. It provides coverage across winter, so any time from the start of April onwards will be fine," she says. 

You don’t have to book a doctor’s appointment to get the whole family covered either. All Ramsay Pharmacy locations are equipped to support you through the process. "All of our community pharmacies have the ability for the patients to book online for their flu vaccine," says Foruria, and once you’re there, you’ll be looked after by an experienced pharmacist who can answer any of your questions and get you back on your way with minimal wait times. Plus, you can grab any scripts or products you need while you’re there."


2. Get picky about your daycare centre.

I have chronic illness, so one of the main things I looked at when choosing where to send my son to daycare was how they managed sickness and hygiene. While all Australian centres will have similar policies around sickness, there is some variation in how seriously they’re followed, so it’s a good question to have on your list when choosing a centre. The other things I looked for were good ventilation, an effort to keep common surfaces disinfected, and a good outdoor space with a focus on outside play.

3. Teach your child about hand-washing.

Yes, it sounds simple but there’s a reason health professionals are always banging on about the importance of something as simple as hand washing — it works! Depending on the age of your little one, Foruria recommends teaching them about hand hygiene early on. "Have a look at your daycare facilities too," she says, "see if they have hand washing facilities and if your child's old enough, see if they can access the sink to wash their hands throughout the day."

4. Disinfect common household surfaces.

This is a big one for preventing droplets that might come home on your little one’s hands or belongings. If you can wipe down household surfaces with disinfectant, you might just stop those bugs before they can infect your child or the rest of your family.


5. Optimise ventilation. 

My mum was an intensive care nurse for 15 years and growing up, she was always opening windows so fresh air could flow through our house. Ventilation is really important when it comes to preventing the spread of respiratory bugs, and it’s a pretty simple thing to do. It also keeps your house free from odours and reduces mould, so what are you waiting for? Go crack open a window, I’ll wait. 

How to manage daycare bugs once you’ve got them.

1. Keep kiddos hydrated.

We know how important hydration is especially when little ones are unwell. But sore throats and sick tummies can make getting fluids down (and keeping them down) a battle royale. I always turn to icy poles and watered-down cordial to make sure my son gets some fluids in when sick, just remember to offer small frequent sips! Foruria also recommends making sure to offer healthy nutrition, full of vitamins and minerals to continue to support immune function.

2. Let them sleep!

You know how when we’re sick all we want to do is rest on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy? Well, little kids’ bodies want the same thing (maybe not the Grey’s Anatomy part). When kids are sick, the best thing is to let them sleep or rest as much as they need. Try not to wake them early from naps and don’t worry too much about screen time if it helps their little bodies rest.

3. Minimise direct transmission.

Now, I’m already a bit of a germaphobe, so I don’t tend to share water bottles with my toddler, but my husband is more relaxed with that kind of thing, so you can probably guess who gets the daycare bugs first! While it can be lovely to share food and drinks with your kiddos, keeping things separate can help to minimise transmission during peak cold and flu season.


Foruria agrees, adding, "I know it's hard with the little ones, for some reason they just love putting their hands in your mouth! But that is probably the number one way for you to get sick from them," she says. 

4. Fill your fridge with vitamin-rich foods.

When it comes to vitamins, it can be tricky to sort through the marketing jargon and find what actually helps. But Foruria says there are some products you can use to help minimise the impact on the whole family. 

“So, some of them we usually recommend are foods and products containing zinc, vitamin C and probiotics,” she says. Of course, there are supplement options too. Your pharmacist or GP are the right people to check in with about which supplements are right for you and your family, so always let them know about any other medications you’re taking before adding something new. 

Check your family's eligibility and book your flu vaccination appointment at Ramsay Pharmacy online.

This information is general in nature and does not replace the advice of a healthcare professional. As with any vaccination, always seek health and medical advice from a qualified pharmacist or your healthcare professional.

Feature Image: Getty.

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