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I hear that kids in daycare get sick a lot. Can I do anything to prevent this?

David Geller pediatrician

Kids do pass infections to each other easily in a group setting such as daycare, particularly during the winter months. You can't prevent it entirely, unless you switch to a nanny or decide to stay home yourself. But there are steps you can take to minimize the chances your baby will be ill.

First, the center you choose should have an established and well-enforced policy of not allowing sick children to attend. Smaller-size daycare centers may be better, too, if your baby is prone to getting sick, since he'll be exposed to fewer kids. Regardless of the size, make sure caregivers routinely wash their hands before and after diapering or helping a child blow his nose, because this will also prevent germs from spreading. And make sure that the staff washes your baby's hands during the day, too.

You can also take steps to keep your baby's immune system as strong as possible, to help him fight off infection. Breastfeeding will give him an advantage in preventing upper respiratory infections and gastrointestinal illnesses. Once your baby's eating solids, offer a good variety of foods to help him obtain the best nutrients and vitamins he can from his diet. Make sure he's getting enough rest and exercise every day. And ensure that your baby gets all the recommended immunizations on the appropriate schedule to help prevent serious infections.

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