Young Children —Age 3 to 5
A daycare or preschool setting is often the first place your child spends time with a large number of other children on a daily basis. This can also mean it's the first time he or she is exposed to such a large number of germs. With a little preparation from you, your child can help fight germs all through the school day.
Sending Your Child to Daycare
The numbers of preschool children enrolled in school-based educational programs and childcare centers have increased steadily over the past two decades. More kids in school means more contact with other people's germs.
Getting Sick and Catching Colds
Several studies have revealed an increased risk of respiratory, ear, and gastrointestinal infections in daycare and preschool settings. But the good news is that studies have also shown that by practising good hygiene, daycare and preschool programs can reduce the chance that your child will get sick.
Common colds and diarrheal disease are two of the most common afflictions your child may "bring home from preschool." As a parent, you can talk to your daycare provider or preschool teacher to make sure that they are following these practices to help prevent the spread of germs:
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- Washing their hands frequently, and whenever possible between contacts with children, especially after assisting them with toileting.
- If soap and water aren't available, encourage them to use a hand sanitizer.
- Ask them to remind children to wash their hands throughout the day, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and if they look dirty.
- Making sure their sink locations and restrooms are stocked with soap, paper towels or working hand dryers. While handwashing is the method of choice, other non-sink areas should have access to alcohol-based hand cleaner; it should be kept out of the reach of the children.
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces like desks and cubbies, toys, and commonly shared items at least daily and when visibly soiled with a disinfectant, and keeping the disinfectant out of the reach of children. (Toys being used by children should be rinsed after disinfection.)
- Cleaning and disinfecting lunch and snack areas regularly, as well as any food prep area they may have in their classroom or centre. All food contact surfaces must be rinsed well with water after disinfection.
- Encouraging everyone to "cover their coughs and sneezes" by coughing or sneezing into one's elbow or sleeve rather than one's bare hands, if tissues are unavailable.
- If your child takes a bus to preschool, try encouraging the bus driver to clean/disinfect the handrails and bus seats regularly.
Establish Before- and After-School Hygiene Habits
As your child adapts to the school-day routine, you can help make hygiene a regular part of the day with some basic actions both before and after school.
- Teach your child how and when to wash his/her hands. He/she should wash for 20 seconds; a handy timer is to sing the "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" all the way through, twice.Review proper Handwashing Steps.
- Continually reinforce the fact that everyone should wash his or her hands for at least 20 seconds before every meal, after using the bathroom and after playing outside.
- Make handwashing fun by downloading a
handwashing poster/rebus to read together and hang by your bathroom sink.
- Show your child how to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, for those times when soap and water are not available.
- Pack your child's backpack with tissues and hand sanitizer to carry along to school.
- Designate an area near the door where everyone can take off their shoes and drop their bags when they come inside. This helps reduce the tracking of dirt and germs throughout your home.
- Send your child straight to the sink upon arrival home, to scrub his/her hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. As the Public Health Agency of Canada has noted, handwashing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of illness-causing germs.
- Talk to your child to make sure he/she is following important personal hygiene habits both at home and in the classroom. Visit the Caring for Kids website, developed by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS). It offers plenty of good information for parents to help teach children about hygiene and staying healthy: www.caringforkids.cps.ca
- As a parent, remain diligent about cleaning and disinfecting tables, countertops and other frequently touched surfaces. (All food contact surfaces must be rinsed after disinfection.) These practices will help you stop the spread of germs your child may have brought home from school. Disinfect the hard surfaces and sanitize the soft surfaces that kids touch, including doorknobs, light switches and book bags.
Check out LYSOL's Disinfecting Tips
Review Healthy Homes for quick tips in cleaning to remove germs from the various rooms throughout your home.
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Hygiene Tips for Preschoolers
Simple steps can help prevent the spread of germs between children once they are in daycare/preschool.
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- Remind your child to wash hands before eating, after touching surfaces, and after sneezing/coughing.
- Be sure your child knows how to use a hand sanitizer in case soap and water aren't available.
- Urge your child to cover his/her coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the tissue into the trash, or sneeze and cough into his/her elbow or sleeve.
- Make sure to send your child to school with hand sanitizer and tissues.
- Encourage your child to avoid getting close to other children who may be coughing and sneezing at school.
- Keep your child home if he/she is sick.
Play Date Primer
Following a few simple steps will help ensure that your child and his/her play date companion have a safe and happy adventure together.
Setting Up a Play Date
- Ask your child whom he/she likes to play with. Compatibility is more important than availability.
- When calling for a play date, be friendly and direct. Introduce yourself as your child's mother, and ask if your child and the other child could spend time together (at your home, or theirs). Choose dates that work for everyone, and discuss any ideas you have for activities.
- Invite the other parent to attend if this is the first time the children are having a play date.
- Ask about any food allergies or dislikes so that you can plan an appropriate healthy snack. (If your child is visiting the other home, plan to send a favorite snack along.)
- Be sure to exchange home, work and mobile phone numbers in case of any emergencies or if either of you have difficulties related to drop-off or pick-up times.
- Plan activities that will help the children interact and have some quiet time. Ask your child in advance about any toys that are too special to share, and set them aside.
Preparing for a Safe and Healthy Play Date
- Make sure all toys that the children will play with are clean. When purchasing stuffed animals, choose those that are washable so that you can launder them between play dates. Wash plastic toys with soap and water. (If you disinfect them, remember that any toys children will handle must be rinsed well with water after disinfection.) Board game surfaces should be wiped down with disinfecting wipes.
- If you are planning a craft project, ask the other parent to send art supplies (like crayons) along with the child. Sharing art supplies is a good way to spread germs from hand to hand.
- Mop the floor. Cleaning hard surface floors with an appropriate detergent and water will remove dust, dirt, germs and visible mold growth and should be done weekly × especially during cold and flu season.
- Make snacks safe to share. Cut up sandwiches and snacks so the children don't over-handle the food.
- Have lots of tissues and disinfecting wipes on hand, and make sure the sink is stocked with soap and paper towels for handwashing.
Ground Rules for Play Dates
- Ask children to take off their shoes upon arrival. This can help prevent the spread of germs that could be tracked inside your home from outside.
- Encourage handwashing during the play date.
- Make sure your child and his/her friend wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before they play in a new area.
- Remind them to wash their hands before snack time.
- You can make it fun by printing out a
handwashing poster and hanging it above the sink.
- Encourage children to cover their noses or mouths with a tissue if they need to cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue away, or sneeze or cough into their elbows or sleeves, and wash their hands.
Print out a Play Date Supplies list.
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Immunization for Children
It's important to continue to protect your child's health by making sure he or she gets timely immunizations. Immunizations enable the body to produce antibodies that, in turn, prevent your child from getting — and spreading — specific diseases.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, vaccines are among the safest tools of modern medicine and the Agency urges people of all ages to receive those immunizations that are recommended for their age and health status. Vaccines have saved the lives of more babies and children than any other medical intervention in the past 50 years.
One of the most important things for parents to do is to make sure their children are immunized against 13 serious vaccine-preventable diseases, as their age requires:
- Diphtheria can cause serious breathing problems for your child. Diphtheria can damage your child's heart and nervous system and cause paralysis.
- Tetanus is a disease that most people think of if they step on a rusty nail. Tetanus is also found in dirt, manure and human stool. If tetanus gets into your baby's open cut, it can cause muscle spasms, convulsions and death.
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough) can turn into severe coughing ("whooping" sound), choking and vomiting. It can last for weeks or months, and may even cause death. It is most dangerous when your baby is under six months old.
- Polio attacks your child's nervous system and can paralyze muscles or even cause death.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can cause meningitis —an infection of the lining around your child's spinal cord and brain. It can also cause pneumonia, swelling in the back of the throat, deafness and death.
- Measles can cause a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes that could last from 1—2 weeks. Measles can also cause pneumonia, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and death.
- Mumps can cause a fever, headache, and swollen, painful cheeks and neck. It could make your child deaf and cause meningitis. In rare cases, mumps can affect future ability to have children.
- Rubella (German measles) causes a fever and a rash, which usually lasts for less than a week. It is very serious for unborn babies. If a pregnant woman who has no protection against rubella comes in contact with this disease early in her pregnancy, she could have a miscarriage. After exposure to rubella, the baby could be born deaf, blind, or with heart or brain damage. Before you become pregnant, ask your doctor if you need a rubella shot.
- Varicella (Chickenpox) causes a low fever and an itchy rash of blisters that form scabs. In some children, chickenpox causes severe skin infections (like flesh-eating disease), scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.
- Hepatitis B affects the liver and can sometimes cause liver cancer or other serious liver problems for your child.
- Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumococcal meningitis, pneumonia, ear and blood infections. It could make your child deaf or cause brain damage.
- Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis — an infection of the lining around your child's spinal cord and brain — or a blood infection. Children can die from meningitis.
- Influenza (the flu) is a common respiratory infection that begins in your child's nose and throat. Influenza can be serious — especially for infants and young children. If your child has influenza complications, she may have difficulty breathing or might develop pneumonia.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provides the Public Health Agency of Canada with ongoing medical, scientific, and public health advice regarding vaccines approved for use in humans in Canada and recommendations for immunization.
For updates and supplements to the Canadian Immunization Guide or more information about the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), visit the web site at: www.naci.gc.ca
NACI provides national recommendations for immunization for Canadians of all ages. Visit "Immunization Schedules for Infants and Children" for children up to 18 years of age at: www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/is-cv/index-eng.php#a
However, publicly-funded immunization schedules vary from province or territory. You are encouraged to talk to your child's paediatrician, family physician, public health nurse or local health unit about recommended immunizations in your province or territory.
Immunization for Young Children â€” Age 3 to 5
For access to the most current childhood immunization schedules by province and territory for children under 6 years of age, visit the â€œYour immunization scheduleâ€? page of the Public Health Agency of Canada website at:www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/iyc-vve/is-cv-eng.php
Ask your child's healthcare provider any questions you might have about immunizations.
If your child has missed any recommended immunizations, talk to his/her healthcare provider about "catch-up immunizations."
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