How Sick is Too Sick for Daycare?

More likely than not, your kids’ daycare is a beacon of hope in an otherwise chaotic and crazy world of errands, work, and extracurricular activities. What happens when that beacon of hope goes away in the form of a runny nose or fever in the morning? Sometimes, you notice the telltale signs of sickness in your kids, but don’t want the hassle of finding an emergency babysitter or can’t afford to take a sick day at work to stay home. You might tell yourself that a little runny nose won’t hurt anything.

The truth is, there is such a thing as too sick to leave, and if you’re noticing signs of sickness in your kids, you’ve most likely already reached that point. It’s easy to ignore those signs and take your kids in anyway, but you may be causing more harm than you think.

So, how sick is too sick for daycare? It’s important that you recognize these signs so your children don’t inadvertently infect the other kids at the daycare. Let’s take a look at several of the signs you need to watch for to determine if your kids are too sick to go in and play with the other children.

  • Rashes – Any kind of rash is cause to keep your child home. In fact, most places will immediately send the child home if they see any kind of rash. Of course, not all rashes are contagious or even cause for concern, but it’s best to get cleared by your doctor before sending the kids back in.
  • Colds/Fever – Colds are a different type of sickness than diarrhea altogether, as they are often caused by entirely different germs. When your child is suffering from a cold, it’s likely that he or she was contagious a day or two before they actually showed symptoms. A cold probably isn’t enough to keep your child away from day care. In fact, it’s an opportune moment to teach your child about proper ways to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough. However, if your child is suffering from a persistent fever, it’s best to keep your child home until your doctor confirms whether or not the child is contagious.
  • Coughing – Colds are often accompanied by coughing, but this cough can linger much longer than the cold itself. As such, colds typically aren’t reasons to keep your kids home, especially if they’re on the tail end of the cold. Coughs that happen infrequently and that are unaccompanied by other signs of sickness are not enough to keep your kids home. However, if you start seeing coughing with chills, fever, and mucous, it’s best to keep your child away from daycare.
  • Diarrhea – One of the most consistent symptoms doctors agree on as too sick is diarrhea. Frequent watery stool is a definite sign to stay home, and not only for the other kids’ sake. Often, diarrhea leaves your child too weak to stay happy and active, meaning that they’ll need extra rest at home to fully recover. This is even more true if your baby is suffering from vomiting in addition to the diarrhea. After the watery, frequent diarrhea has stopped, you are likely okay to bring your child back to daycare, as he or she will no longer be contagious. However, expect to still experience loose stool, as it can take several weeks for your kids’ bowels to fully recover.
  • Other Reasons – Other reasons for keeping your kids home from daycare include especially contagious sicknesses like chickenpox. Chickenpox is extremely contagious and will spread to other children that haven’t had chicken pox before, if they are exposed. You also want to keep your child home if he or she has head lice, as the parasite easily travels between children in close quarters.

Follow the Rules

In the end, it’s your responsibility to recognize signs of contagious sickness and keep your children home. However, your daycare most likely has a variety of rules to follow, as well. It’s in your best interest to follow these rules, so as to avoid the hassle of dropping your kids off only to have to turn around and pick them up again because the daycare sends them home. Take the time to learn your child care center’s rules so you can follow them.

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