Child care is part of many families’ lives. And so are the never ending germs kids seem to bring home!

Sniffles, gastro, more sniffles… But a new study shows there’s actually a simple way to beat the child care germs! 

And it’s probably not what you think.

How child care centres can reduce illness

Forget old-fashioned soap and water. Turns out the best way to vanquish germs from toddler hands is with a squirt of hand sanitiser.

That’s according to a study of almost 1000 children under three years old from 25 childcare centres in Spain. The results, just published in the Journal of Pediatrics, show children taught to use hand sanitiser suffer fewer respiratory infections and need fewer antibiotics than toddlers taught to use soap and water.

Yep, one little change. A whole lot less germs.

children and germs

Germs, be gone!

Research lead author, Dr Ernestina Azor-Martinez, says the results of the eight-month long study are dramatic and show hand sanitiser use is the most effective way to prevent illness..

Over the eight months, doctors recorded 5,211 respiratory infections amongst the kids. But Dr Azor-Martinez says children shown how to use hand sanitisers were 23% less likely to get a respiratory infection and 31% less likely to receive antibiotics.

The toddlers trained to use hand sanitiser also missed fewer days – a win for any family juggling kid logistics!

It’s not all bad news for soap though. Toddlers shown how to use soap and water properly weren’t as snot-free as the hand sanitiser kids, but got less sick than tots left to wash hands their own way.

Plus the findings are bigger than just sniffles and sneezes.

Dr Michael Pitt, of the Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, says the study shows how important it is to teach kids how to wash their hands properly.

“Many serious infections piggyback off of the common cold, ranging from pneumonia to post-viral complications… so this type of work goes beyond decreasing missed days of school and sniffles but preventing serious complications of everyday viruses,” he told Reuters.

“Hand washing isn’t sexy science, but it saves lives.” Dr Pitt

australian flu epidemic

Researchers found that what made the most difference was staff and parents teaching children how to use hand sanitiser effectively.

It might be worth a chat to your child care centre.

Little one already has a cold? You might want to check out this solution for helping unblock stuffy little noses.

Author

Mum of three country kids. Part time psychologist, writer and aspiring children's author. Believes that happiness comes from being grateful, being surrounded by people who support and inspire you, and being brave enough to be yourself.

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