How Often Your Toddler Will Get Sick In Day Care — And How To Fight It

Teach germs a lesson.

Originally Published: 
A father holds his sick child in his arms in the kid's bedroom as the mother sits with them.

When your kid starts day care, they’ll begin bringing home a lot of crap. Your fridge will be lousy with art made of handprints. You’ll have random, terribly painted, crusty clay blobs on every knick-knack shelf. And there will be construction paper glued to construction paper everywhere. But the worst crap your kid will bring home is the extraordinary amount of illnesses that will make them feverish, cough-laden, and vomit-y. Maybe that crusty clay blob isn’t so terrible after all.

It turns out that while disgusting day care illnesses come fast and furious, they actually might make your kid stronger. It’s time for a little shift in perspective.

It’s possible that up until day care, your fairly isolated kid was rarely sick. That’s because anything they picked up likely came from you. This is going to change. Basically, your kid is as bad at defending germs as Amare Stoudemire is at defending…well…anything. So there’s your first crack in the germ armor. Add that to the fact that they’re surrounded by equally poor germ-defenders, and you have a bad scene. But how bad?

It’s completely normal for kids to get six to eight upper respiratory infections and two to three gastrointestinal infections a year. You’re not totally helpless against the onslaught, though.

How To Protect Your Toddler From Day Care Germs

No, you’re not going to buy your kid a mini-hazmat suit and matching lunchbox. You are, however, going to employ some super-easy techniques that may reduce that sickness count to four to six upper respiratory infections and one to two gastrointestinal infections a year. These are the techniques to try:

Phyto Foods

There are a ton of foods your kid digs that are natural immune boosters packed with phytonutrients. They include foods like blueberries, bell peppers, and mangos. Also, pack their lunch with foods containing omega-3s, and stay away from unnaturally sweetened goodies, which can drag an immune system down.

Practice Hand-Washing

The sooner you can make hand-washing a habit, the better. Make sure your kid washes hands the second they come home. Make sure they’re doing it at strategic times like pre-meals and post-poops as well. And encourage them to not touch their face. This one is super hard, considering their nose holes are so fun to explore.


It’s been shown that a little daily exercise can decrease flu episodes over the year by up to 50%. This will also work for you as you get out and chase your toddler around in the fresh air. It’s like the old saying goes: The family that plays together will be less likely to puke in the toilet together.


Just get everyone in your household their flu shot. Please? It’s super important. Not just for your kid, but for everyone’s.

The Bright Side

Yeah, it’s going to suck having a toddler that seems to be sick all the time. But there is some good from all this day care crap. One Canadian study followed kids’ illnesses through day care and into the elementary grades. They found that those who entered day care before 2-and-a-half, who were exposed to all the nasties, experienced less sickness than their peers by second grade.

Essentially, it appears they got all that crap out of the way early. Which is what you’ll do with the arts and crafts they bring home. Except for that lollipop picture frame you got for Father’s Day. That’s pretty dope.

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