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Ways to prevent infections in Childcare settings

This article provides information on when children are most at risk of infection if hygiene measures are not introduced.
© BSAC & PHE

As you have already considered, babies and toddlers use their sense of touch to learn about the shape and texture of things. In the early months, fingers and hands aren’t enough to help them do this, so they use their mouths as well.

child putting toy in their mouth

Image from Hồng Xuân Viên on Pexels.

Children naturally explore with their mouths. Mouths are warm, moist places which are ideal for growing bugs. These germs are helpful bacteria, unique to individuals and don’t usually cause a problem. However, when toys are shared between children without being cleaned they can pass on germs which are harmful to others.

It is really important that toys which are mouthed or dribbled on are cleaned between each child so that any germs are not shared between children. Cleaning can be done by wiping toys down with disinfectant wipes or soaking toys in a Milton solution or similar alternative.

two images - first: children playing football, second: children sitting on carpet floor

Images from Lukas and Anna Shvets on Pexels.

Outside play is really important to children’s wellbeing – making sure that they get exercise and fresh air. However, shoes and hands touch surfaces outside which may have had domestic pets such as cats and dogs and wild animals such as birds and rodents. When children come inside from outdoors, it is really important to make sure hands are washed and shoes are removed.

Did you know?: we touch our faces 16 times an hour! Any germs can easily end up in mouths, noses and eyes so make sure hands are washed when children come in. You might like to consider whether you have indoor and outdoor shoes. You will need to keep floors clean: think of the floor covering and what is easy to clean.

two images - first: two children sitting close together and writing, second: adult and child washing hands

Images from Pixabay and Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.

Some surfaces are touched more than others, especially door handles, table tops and surfaces in the bathroom. It is important to make sure frequently touched surfaces are cleaned down with disinfectant wipes, particularly in toilets and bathrooms where hands might also be wet. Tabletops and handles should be wiped frequently, particularly after mealtimes, when children come back in from outside and after toilet breaks.

children sitting at table together in nursey setting

Image from Naomi Shi on Pexels.

At mealtimes it is really important to ensure that children remain safe. Three things to think about:

  • Washing hands before eating
  • Not sharing foods – especially food which has been half eaten!
  • Making sure they are kept at right temperature so that bugs do not grow in food whilst it sits on the side

In the comments below – think about your own setting, what could you do differently to reduce the risk of children becoming ill? Add a comment telling us:

  • One thing you have learnt
  • One thing you are going to do differently from now on
© BSAC & PHE
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Preventing and Managing Infections in Childcare and Pre-school

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