Help your child avoid contact with people who appear ill

Viruses and other germs spread easily from person to person. Avoiding people who are obviously ill is one way to prevent exposure to germs. This usually is not a practical tactic for children, especially when they are enrolled in day care or school. However, you can teach your child ways to minimize the risk of exposure.

  • Explain how germs spread when you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth before washing your hands. Show your child how to cover his or her mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Teach your child to avoid sharing food, drinks, and silverware with others.
  • Remind your child to wash his or her hands throughout the day, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.

Children younger than age 2 need a caregiver's help to prevent the spread of germs. Wash your child's hands frequently and disinfect shared toys. If your child attends day care, closely review the policies regarding sick children and hygiene issues.

If your child becomes ill, keep him or her out of day care and away from other children until the contagious period has passed. If you are unsure about how long this should be, contact your health professional.

Last Updated: February 26, 2009

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