Autumn is here, winter is just around the corner and with it unique experiences: Snow, cookies, cozy play days in the warm apartment and many more wonderful jam jar moments. But the dark season also means wet, cold and, above all, waves of colds. Parents of children attending daycare or kindergarten, in particular, know that one or two infections or colds will be brought home in the coming months. How the child’s immune system can be strengthened, why daycare children get sick so often and what we do at cocon daycare to curb the cold wave, you can read in this article.
How do I protect my child from diseases?
The child’s immune system is already shaped in the womb. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise in the fresh air can increase not only your own well-being, but also that of the fetus. Immediately after birth, the infant then enjoys so-called nest protection, which is basically the borrowed immunity of the mother. During the first three months of life, the nest protection counteracts certain diseases and then breaks down again. In parallel, the organism works on its own immune defenses, which are gradually built up through contact with pathogens, i.e. infections, from the environment, through vaccinations and through breast milk or pre-nutrition.
It is therefore inevitable that the child will become ill more often in the first years of life. Nevertheless, there are means that help to support the natural defense reaction of our immune system.
Good hygiene means, above all, frequent and thorough hand washing with soap. Studies show that regular hand washing significantly reduces the spread of germs and can reduce the incidence of catching a cold by 50%.
With a video such as this one, it’s easy to show children how proper hand washing works and why it’s so important: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXEo9LXPwDw
We encounter dry heated air in unventilated rooms, especially in winter. Under these conditions, viruses can settle particularly well on the mucous membranes. Regular walks can provide relief. Every day, you should use 30 to 60 minutes to be out in the fresh air with your child. Regular exercise also boosts the immune system.
Especially during the dark season, children should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep, depending on their age. Relaxation breaks and snuggle and reading time during the day also promote rest.
Healthy nutrition means above all a varied and balanced diet with all the nutrients a child needs.
Above all, care should be taken to ensure a sufficient supply of vitamin C. In winter, for example, this can be ensured with broccoli, raw peppers, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, tangerines and apples.
In addition, make sure to drink plenty of unsweetened fluids to keep the mucous membranes in the nose and throat moist and thus prevent the colonisation of viruses and bacteria.
Regional fresh cuisine
cocon has designed a menu according to the seasons in cooperation with the cooks and taking into account the recommendations of the DGE (German Society for Nutrition). Thereby we use exclusively regional, fresh products. Especially in the fall and winter season, we offer our children additional daily vitamins, such as light raw vegetable salads made of peppers, carrots and cucumber with lemon dressing, which strengthen the immune system. These are very popular with the children and incidentally fill up the vitamin budget. Stews with lots of vegetables and soups are also very popular with our cocon children in autumn and winter and must not be missing from the menu. A little tip: In autumn and winter you can sweeten a warm porridge with cinnamon. Babies are allowed to eat cinnamon from the time they are ready to eat, but we only recommend this when it comes to selected products. We do not use cinnamon often at cocon, but when we do, we only use the high-quality Ceylon cinnamon.
Good hygiene, exercise in the fresh air, sufficient sleep and recovery phases as well as a balanced diet support the natural defence reaction of the immune system.
Why are day-care children often sick?
The first year of kindergarten is often a challenge for parents. The little ones often get sick and constantly shake up everyday life. After the nest protection wears off and the child begins to meet other children, he or she often catches one infection after another. Viral infections in childhood are necessary, however, so that the usual defence mechanisms such as fever, tiredness and fatigue can develop. In addition, the organism develops antibodies to be prepared for further contact with this virus.
Above all, contact with other children leads to the transmission of viruses, but also the fact that children in the first years of kindergarten still put a lot of things in their mouths.
On average, daycare children are sick up to twelve times a year for about one to two weeks. Added together, that can be up to 24 weeks a year. However, as the immune system learns more over the years, the frequency of illnesses decreases. At around 10 years of age, the immune system in children is largely mature. When your child attends school, the number of infections and illnesses usually decreases.
Tip: For parents, the frequent illness of the little ones can become a real challenge in the care issue. There are special regulations for parents for these challenges: In principle, each parent is entitled to take 10 days of (unpaid) special leave. With 2 children, the entitlement increases to 25 days, so that couples or single parents are entitled to 50 days of special leave in this case. In addition, you will receive child sickness benefit from the health insurance fund. You can always get more information from your own health insurance fund or from your employer.
Waves of colds in the day care centre
Measures for prevention
In day care centres, waves of illness often develop. At the cocon day care centre, we do everything we can to contain or prevent these.
We playfully teach the little ones the importance of hygiene and show them how to wash their hands properly. Above all, routine plays a major role here: before every meal and after every visit to the toilet, hands are washed thoroughly with soap and water – of course not only during the cold season. In addition to hand washing, children can be taught at an early age to sneeze and cough into the crook of their elbow to reduce the spread of germs. We show the children how to blow their nose properly and explain to them that paper handkerchiefs may only be used once and then belong in the residual waste.
Our concept includes daily activities outside. Our gardens at cocon invite you to play in all weathers. It doesn’t always have to be big excursions, but daily fresh air sessions support the children’s immune system, especially in the cold season. Our credo: There is no such thing as bad weather if the clothing is adapted accordingly. That is why we always remind our parents of the appropriate clothing for their child when the seasons change.
Regular airing in the groups and bedrooms is standard at cocon. Through Corona alone, we have further optimised our in-house ventilation concept and thus ensure fresh air in the rooms at fixed times every day.
During the cold season, we also intensify the cleaning of the toys and the second levels within the group rooms. Toys and books are cleaned at regular intervals with disinfectants recommended by experts, so that possible transmission paths are also minimised.
In all these areas, we are also supported by our housekeeping staff who ensure cleanliness and hygiene on a daily basis.
Despite all our efforts, it is of course inevitable that children will catch a cold in the day care centre. If a child shows symptoms of a cold, such as a cold or cough, it is better for him or her to stay at home or to be picked up by the parents. This measure is not only important to stem the tide of colds. A sick child can only fully cure its infection and regain its strength at home in peace and quiet and with its close caregivers.
If a child becomes ill during the course of the day, we take him or her to a quiet room next door. There, the child not only finds the necessary rest, but we also try to protect the other children from infection. The teachers also pay attention to thorough hygiene and disinfect their hands when they come into contact with sick children. In case of contagious diseases, we inform the parents as a matter of course and report about the disease, the course, the symptoms and the ways of infection.
At cocon we pay attention to a transparent handling of illnesses in the day care centre.
When can a sick child return to the day care centre?
The child should only be allowed to return to the day care centre if the general condition is good after 24 hours and no further symptoms have developed.
Even minor signs of illness such as a cold or cough should be taken seriously, even if the parents may be under a lot of pressure at work. In this situation, a sick child needs the love and care of the closest caregivers to become fully fit again.
If your child has tested positive for Corona, your child must stay at home until it has tested negative. In this case, testing with a Corona rapid test is sufficient (according to the current status). For further information and regulations on the Corona virus in connection with day care, please visit the official information page of the Bavarian State Ministry for Family, Labour and Social Affairs.
Do I have to report my child sick to the day care centre?
So that no one has to worry, it is important to notify the Kita of your child’s absence, preferably by telephone. A medical certificate is not necessary for the Kita. Each day care centre decides for itself how exactly the child is to be deregistered in case of illness and should be passed on to the parents in detail.
In the case of contagious diseases, the Infection Protection Act clearly regulates how parents should proceed: Children who have contracted an infectious disease, or even if there is only the possibility of it, are not allowed to attend a community facility until a doctor’s verdict is that there is no longer a risk of infection. This applies, for example, to a potentially contagious diarrhoea or gastrointestinal infection. In addition, the temporary exclusion applies to measles, mumps, whooping cough, scarlet fever, chicken pox, head lice and scabies.
Tips for a cold in children
Get enough sleep: rest and relaxation speed up recovery. If your child does not want to stay in bed, make sure they have a quiet routine.
Plenty of fluids: Stuck mucus is loosened better if the mucous membranes remain moist. Especially in the case of fever, make sure that your child drinks enough fluids to avoid dehydration of the body.
High humidity: Damp laundry or wet towels on radiators provide higher humidity and make breathing easier. In addition, steam inhalation can further increase the humidification of the mucous membranes.
See a doctor: A visit to the doctor is not always necessary, but if you are unsure about the symptoms, a visit to a paediatrician’s practice is unavoidable to get a correct diagnosis. Especially if you are not that experienced in using proven home remedies, this should be discussed with the paediatrician.