Kids & Company Blog

Back to Work: Illness

We asked moms and dads what they want to know about returning to work after a leave with little ones and they delivered! We broke all the questions we received into themes and have addressed them in this 11-part blog series on Back to Work in partnership with Mama Coach.


Themes: Tips for managing immune systems for both baby and parent? Tips for preventing sickness. What can I expect in terms of sickness? Is there back up child care that will look after them when they are sick and you can’t miss work?


Kate Macdonald, RN & Mama Coach: Little ones often start to come down with colds and various illnesses when they go to a new child care facility. Being around other children and germs will lead to some sick days for mom and dad. Hand washing will help to prevent sickness; change their clothes and socks when they get home to help decrease spreading germs through house; ensure they get enough sleep and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and iron-rich items.

What can I expect in terms of sickness? It is really child dependent. Your child will likely have frequent colds with running noses and coughing. There can be exposure to different viruses that are common at certain times of the year, one common one being Hand, Foot and Mouth. This virus is very contagious. It starts with a high fever for several days then small red spots appear. These spots will then blister. This virus is contagious until the blisters have scabbed over. Check with your facility on their illness policy. Usually your child should be symptom free of fever or diarrhea for 24 hours before returning back to their child care setting. It is important to make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date.

Kids & Company: Your child care provider should have a plan for minimizing risks through toy disinfectant processes, dish cleaning processes and hand-cleaning policies and always have separate areas for food preparation from bathroom and diaper activities. However, it is still common for children to get sick within the first month of being in a new child care environment and even pass it on to their parents, and this isn’t entirely negative: fighting the common cold is a way for them to build a stronger immune system. In addition to the tips Mama Coach mentioned, you can also try some socialization and playdates leading up to starting child care – this has a number of benefits but also provides some early exposure to common bacteria and viruses. If your little one gets a cold before you return to work, it can be much easier to manage and boosts their immune for the future.

In accordance with licensing standards, when there is more serious illness that involves fever (over 38 degrees Celcius), more than one bout of diarrhea, or vomiting, the child will not be able to remain in care and should be 24 hours clear of symptoms or antibiotic administration before returning. We realize this can be very inconvenient but it does help protect others so a back-up plan is a good idea. Licensed centres do not provide care for sick ones (in accordance to health and safety regulations that strive to minimize the spread of illness), however good back-up options would include having a roster of babysitters, nannies, family members and friends to call on. Kids & Company centres maintain lists of babysitters for our families to consider for such occasions.

When contagious illness like hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) are confirmed in one or more children, your child care provider will issue an alert with symptoms to watch for and information on their action plan. An outbreak might be suspected if more than one child exhibits symptoms with the same category of symptoms within 48 hours of each other and then it is reported immediately to Alberta Health Services.

Check out our other topics here:
Part 1: Transition
Part 2: Illness
Part 3: Sleep and routine
Part 4: Adjusting
Part 5: Eating
Part 6: Friends and bullies
Part 7: Multiple children
Part 8: Guilt
Part 9: Timing
Part 10: Separation anxiety
Part 11: Weaning


About Mama Coach

The Mama Coach is a team of Registered Nurses who are committed to making motherhood easier. As Registered Nurses, we have the skills and the training to give your family the quality care that you deserve. We are all Mamas too. We have been in your shoes and want to share our knowledge and want to make you feel incredibly supported. Our programs are based on science + empathy and support. We are Registered Nurses, infant and child sleep coaches, lactation counsellors, Prenatal Educators as well as CPR instructors. All packages include lactation counselling and intensive support. We offer a variety of services to help families transition into parenting which include: In home/group prenatal classes, Postpartum visits, Healthy beginnings to help support you and your newborn, sleep coaching from 3 months and up, allergy navigation and CPR.

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