Winter is upon us and the it’s the season of sniffles.

If you’ve got a child in childcare, you’re facing a slew of “daycare bugs” that could drag the whole family down for months. Here’s how to maximise your own resistance as well as your child’s, and keep a balance so you can care for your family while keeping your employer happy.

1. Flu shots

They’re not just for elderly people, flu shots are for adults and children as well as pregnant women (who also qualify for a free shot). Every year the vaccine is updated to cover the most prevalent flu bugs around.  Influenza is far more severe than a cold and can require hospitalisation.

2. Hand sanitiser

Making sure the whole family follows good hygiene and washes their hands regularly will protect you from some bugs. Keep hand sanitiser in the care and use it when picking up your child from daycare. Antiseptic wipes are also useful.

3. Hygiene habits

As well as teaching children about proper hand washing before meals and after using the bathroom, encourage them to cover their mouth before sneezing and coughing. Also teach them not to put things in their mouth.

4. Immune boost

A healthy diet with the proper nutrients is the best way to build a strong immune system, as well as getting enough sleep. You can also try remedies to prevent colds or speed healing such as:

  • Probiotics: “good bacteria” found in natural yoghurt, kimchi and supplements can help outcompete bad bugs and improve your gut health
  • Echinacea: scientific evidence is mixed on the effectiveness of Echinacea to prevent sickness and/or reduce its duration, but it’s generally safe to add to your anti-bug arsenal
  • Ginseng: one Canadian study suggested this could be effective for reducing winter colds
  • Multivitamins:  deficiencies of certain minerals and vitamins are linked to reduced immune function. A chewable multivitamin could be a good idea, particularly if your kids are going through a picky eating phase.
  • Garlic: a trickier one as it’s most effective raw. You’ll certainly ward other people off, if not bugs as well.
  • Chicken soup: there are studies showing that home made chicken soup may be beneficial for upper respiratory tract infections
  • Zinc: there’s substantial research showing that zinc lozenges can reduce the severity and duration of the common cold
  • Green tea: drinking green tea or taking it in capsules possibly lowers influenza risk, and hot liquids generally can help relieve nasal congestion

5. Get some sun

Easier said than done if you’re in southern parts of Australia, but sunlight boosts Vitamin D which promotes normal immune function. If you can’t get any rays in the middle part of the day, when they’re most effective, consider a Vitamin D supplement.

Emergency care

Every time your child gets sick (which may be frequently) you’ll have to keep them home from daycare. Check your centre’s policy: some are more lenient than others about what sniffles and bugs are allowed.

Always have a back up childcare option such as a family member, or an emergency nanny service.

If your whole family gets sick at the same time and both parents are bedridden with flu, you’ll also need help.

Leave entitlements

Sick and carer’s leave also covers you for when your child is ill and you get 10 days each year as a full-time employee. You’re also entitled to two days unpaid carer’s leave. Some employers may let you take extra leave, or you can use holiday leave.

Work flexibility

You may run out of leave, or find that taking it isn’t ideal as you get behind with work and have to catch up. See if your employer can be flexible with your hours, or enable working from home.

Ultimately if you have a kid in daycare, you’re probably going to come down with some colds and viruses this winter. Prepare for the worst, and try to stay rested and healthy so you have the best chance of beating bugs quickly.

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  • Some great tips here lets see if they get me though the winter


  • Why does this say to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing? The rule now is to use the shoulder or the inner part of the elbow to avoid spreading germs from the hands.


  • I think these are important and I know I was concerned when my little one started childcare so yes we should take these on board. However it’s also important to not always keep them in closed doors so to speak as it is important for them to get out and about as this helps them strengthen their immune system better.


  • Some childcare centres put up signs if there has been cases of severe contagious illnesses in the centre at all.


  • Thanks for sharing this informative and interesting article and thanks for the tips.


  • Re babies one person who changed her baby in the baby changing area observed the change mat was not wiped down after use at all when she went to use it herself and no wipes were next to it. Children should be encouraged to wash their hands after using the toilet at childcare or cleaned by a wipe. At home get your children to wash their hands before meals. Our 2 1/2 year old already tries to wash his hands every time after going to the toilet.


  • Wow.. OMG is this really what I’m going to have to expect nxt year :-/ I can’t stand sick kids or germs… Fun fun fun.. Looks like I’m getting my son on the hand sanitiser train.. Lol


  • I like to boost e kids immune system and make sure they get lots of sleep!


  • A good read thank you for sharing tips


  • Great information. I also find that regular exercise is hugely important in building up your immunity.


  • Very useful tips, especially for boosting immune system, thanks for sharing.


  • Thank you for the useful tips


  • All great advice. But day care is also a great place to build up their immunity by being exposed to these bugs.


  • Might have to try some, my kids are all unwell with the flu today


  • I enjoyed reading through your helpful tips, thanks :-)


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