My kid has been in daycare for about a year and has been sick almost more than he’s been healthy! I’m missing so much work. Is this normal? Can I do anything to boost his immunity?
It’s normal for toddlers to get sick quite often when they start daycare, contracting six to 12 viruses in the first year alone. This is because daycare and schools are ideal environments for the spread of viruses. Illnesses such as the common cold, stomach bugs and hand, foot and mouth disease are easily spread through direct and indirect contact with kids who are coughing, sneezing, rubbing their snotty noses, and sharing toys and food. As long as your toddler is just developing these typical viruses, and not more serious bacterial infections like meningitis, there’s no reason to be worried about his immune health—though having a sick kid all the time is likely to cause you some headaches.
The only way to prevent kids from getting sick is to wash their hands several times a day (or have their daycare provider help when you’re not there) and to teach them healthy hand hygiene when they’re old enough to catch on. Teaching kids to “dab,” or sneeze into their elbow, is a good one to start with. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also fill in when they’re at the park and a sink is not available. As for strengthening your child’s immunity, getting plenty of sleep and physical activity, and eating a balanced diet are your best bets. Supplements or individual foods that claim to be immunity boosters don’t actually live up to their claims.