Illnesses in Daycare: How often is normal?

Kids in Kindergarten

I gathered some stats that will help us define what is “normal” in terms of illnesses in child care.

What is considered to be normal?

According to Mayo Clinic, an average of 7 to 8 infections a year for every kid and more (up to 12 colds a year) for children who are in child care or when they start school.

It’s also typical for kids to have symptoms lasting up to 14 days. And sometimes a cough can last up to 6 weeks. That means kids can be sick for a majority of the year and still have a pretty typical immune system.

I found other stats on recovery that mention a 7 to 10 days (and even earlier) recovery time, although a cough can last up to 3 weeks.

When can my child return to daycare?

Most centres have a 24 hour policy. If the child is symptom free for 24 hours, or has been on medication for 24 hours, and they feel better, they can return. Some centres increase this time period to 48 hours during an outbreak in order to prevent further spread of an illness. (according to this website)

Another recommendation: Often, a child is not allowed to return to the centre until they’ve been fever-free (or diarrhea-free) for 24 hours. (according to this website)

Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) website advise: Most children with mild colds who have no fever and who feel well enough to go to school or childcare do not need to stay home. Most colds spread in the 1-3 days before children show symptoms such as a runny nose or minor cough. (according to this brochure)

Useful cold and flu stuff to have at home for babies and toddlers

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When to start worrying?

Jeffrey Modell Foundation’s ( that educates on Primary immunodeficiency: PI) lists out these 10 warning signs that might direct you to a  physician). PI causes children and adults to have infections that come back frequently or are unusually hard to cure.

  1.  4 or more new ear infections in one year
  2.  2 or more serious sinus infections in one year
  3.  2 or more months on antibiotics with little effect
  4.  2 or more cases of pneumonia within one year
  5.  Failure of an infant to gain weight or grow normally ( check official WHO Growth Standards here)
  6.  Recurrent, deep skin or organ abscesses
  7.  Recurrent thrush in the mouth or elsewhere on the skin after age one
  8.  Need for intravenous antibiotics to clear infections
  9.  2 or more deep-seated infections
  10.  A family history of primary immunodeficiency


The bright side

A study (“Daycares have a reputation for being germ factories,” lead author Sylvana Cote of the University of Montreal, in Quebec)  found that toddlers in group child care get sick more often than toddlers who stay at home, but found those same kids get sick less often than their peers during the primary school years.


A cool visualisation related to our immune system:


Pic Source:


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Cristina Gurguta

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Welcome to! I’m Cristina, a Senior Machine Learning Operations Lead and a proud mom of two amazing daughters. Here, we help nurture your data science career and offer insane data-driven designs for shopping. Join us on this exciting journey of balancing work and family in a data-driven world!

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