Infants and all children in group settings such as centres and home-based ECE are much more susceptible to colds and flu like symptoms.
What can you do to limit the risk of your child catching a cold, cough, and becoming unwell?
A big thing you can do is keep your child at home so recovery is faster. However, for a simple cold this isn't necessary especially if there is good hygiene and hand-washing practices at your child's centre.
Keep a box of disposable tissues in your bag and in the bag that goes with your child to the ECE service.
Here is information you need to know:
1. Health authorities warn against the use of cough and cold medicines for children under the age of 6 years - except for those containing only bromhexine or intra-nasal decongestants (such as oxymetazoline and xylometazoline) and these are approved only for children aged over 2 years.
2. Breastfeeding helps until 6 months of age (and longer if possible) to protect children’s health and also has been shown by research to reduce the number of antibiotic treatments children are likely to need as pre-schoolers in ECE.
3. There is little evidence that over-the-counter medical treatments for colds are effective and safe for very young children. For young children teaspoons of honey to lick and lemon and honey drinks are advised, along with lots of rest and drinks of water.
4. See our section on this website regarding minimum legal standards for protecting children's health in early childhood centres for hand washing facilities and care of sick children.
5. Observe the adults and children at your ECE service and see if there is evidence of good hand washing and drying practices, covering of mouth when coughing, and noses are kept wiped. If you see a problem, speak up as improvement will benefit everyone at the service and families.