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Handwashing at Daycare
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Handwashing at Daycare
My daughter loves toddler school, however since September
(2 1/2 months)had a cold that lasted on an off for 6
weeks, then an ear infection, the croup, and
conjunctivitis. I've read BPN posts on this subject, that
getting sick can be unavoidable, etc. However I'm
wondering if our daycare isn't practicing good
handwashing, and if so, could that be the cause. They
often have the kids wash hands in a bowl of soapy water
which they pass around to the whole group. Is this an
easy transfer of germs from one kid to the other? Not
sure they are drying their hands on the same towel, but
that could also be a cause. Thanks for your feedback, I
may ask them to be stricter on their policy, or if the
illnesses persist take my daughter elsewhere.
If the handwashing issue is the only problem you have with your daycare, I
would not change just because of it. There are two reasons why I say this.
First, it is completely impossible to keep toddlers from sharing germs, unless
you limit their activities in a way I wouldn't recommend. Even if hands are
washed after bathroom, and before and after eating (which they should be), this
will not solve the problem. Little kids still put toys in their mouths; they touch
each other and then touch their faces, they share a toy and then touch their
faces. Absolutely no way around it -- my 9 year old still does a fair bit of it.
Second, I've read that the worst is over in about 2 years (and it was certainly
with my child -- he was sick a whole lot in daycare from ages 1 to 3, and then,
at 3, this suddenly stopped. After that he was really sick only once or twice a
year. Even colds are not that frequent.). Kids' immune systems are exposed to
the most common infections, and it takes about 2 years to develop immunity to
all of them. This can happen now, or it can happen in early elementary school -
- whenever the exposure first occurs. Might as well be now.
This is a violation of licensing law, I believe, they have
to provide hand-washing in a non-kitchen sink. Totally
gross!Print out the licensing law, easily found on line, and
bring it to them, and have them line up the kids at a sink
to wash hands. Yikes.
I'm pretty sure most would agree that good handwashing
include soap and RUNNING water. The bowl technique sounds
not so clean. I would ask the school to change.
Our child recently started at a day care facility. I've
noticed that the bathroom, which all children and childcare
providers share, provides only cold water in the sink.
Is this normal?
I was always taught that it takes *warm* water, along with
good scrubbing with soap, to remove germs.
Am I over-reacting?
I imagine that there is concern children would scald
themselves, but couldn't the water heater be adjusted
Don't Wanna Have an (all the time) Sick Kid
I've worked in a variety of Early Childhood Ed. settings for
the past 15 years, and I can tell you this is not unusual.
And having had LOTS of handwashing trainings (and having a
partner who is a physician), I can also tell you that it is
the soap, water, and -- very significantly -- the amount of
time scrubbing that's important. The water temperature
isn't going to make a difference (I guess, unless it were so
hot it would actually kill germs, which would also scald
your child). It's unfortunate, because I hate washing my
hands in cold water, but I think some places may have a hard
time adjusting their water temp., so they have to keep it
cold to be within licensing regulations. You might ask if
the water can be any warmer, but it's not a health/safety
concern. Of much more concern is that teachers and children
wash hands frequently, and toys/tables/etc. are cleaned
-Hope this helps
I think you may be overreacting.
There was a great article in the New York Times health
column a while back debunking the idea that warm or even hot
water is helpful for killing germs. While boiling hot water
does obviously kill germs, the temperature at which the heat
of the water does any good in this respect is way higher
than human tolerance. When we wash hands it's mainly to
wash the germs off, and the soap helps them slide off
better, not so much ''killing the germs.'' So, warm water is
mainly a comfort thing. So, keeping it cold-only seems a
reasonable safety measure in a daycare to avoid kids getting
overly hot water. Here's a link to the article:
lukewarm handwasher here
Warm water isn't required to removed germs; it is merely for
your own comfort. The only problem I see is that your kids
may not wash their hands for long enough to actually get the
germs off if their hands freeze first. Maybe the cold water
will build some hardy souls.
The water temperature required to kill viruses and bacteria would be too
hot for cleaning skin. Soap, lots of friction, and a long rinse are all you
Cool is cool
I am a preschool teacher and we use cold water in the children's bathroom for
hand washing so the children don't get burned. After 20 children wash their
hands using the sinks with our old Berkeley plumbing, the water would be very
No burns please
I do think you are over reacting somewhat. It's mainly the
scrubbing action that removes dirt etc, and most kids
probably aren't scrubbing hard or long enough to do much.
Here's what wikipedia says about temp:
Hot water that is comfortable for washing hands is not hot
enough to kill bacteria. Bacteria grows much faster at body
temperature (37 C). However, warm, soapy water is more
effective than cold, soapy water at removing the natural
oils on your hands which hold soils and bacteria. Contrary
to popular belief however, scientific studies have shown
that using warm water has no effect on reducing the
microbial load on hands.
Kids need to be exposed to dirt and germs to have healthy
Dirt Don't Hurt
this page was last updated: Jan 23, 2011
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