Can’t I Just Take my Kids to Daycare Sick?

Can’t I Just Take my Kids to Daycare Sick?

When your child is sick, you still have responsibilities, and you need to be at work. As a provider, I have seen all types of parents. Those who kept their kids home with the sniffles, those who brought their kids when they could barely breathe, and everything in between. Why is it not a good idea to bring your kids to daycare sick? Why can’t the provider just give little Johnny some extra lovins?

Can't i Just Take my Kids to Daycare Sick?

When kids get sick, why can’t you just send them to daycare? You need to be consistent at your job. It’s hard to call in sick at work every time your kids aren’t feeling well, but there are several reasons you should keep your child home when he or she is really sick.


I’m not talking about keeping your kids out of childcare when they have the sniffles or a little tummy ache. You can’t keep them home for everything. Cold and flu season is upon us, so first of all, let’s define WHEN a child is sick.

When is a child too sick for daycare or school?

Diarrhea or vomiting

Fever: 100 degrees or greater

Unknown rash, bumps, or sores

Mucus or pink color in the eye

Difficulty breathing

Green mucus from the ears, nose, or throat

Persistent, deep sounding cough

Parasites, such as lice in the hair or scabies on the skin

You can also check out this list just to be sure, click here.

sick kids, runny nose.

Can I send my child to school sick?

One reason is children need their parents when they are sick. No one can cuddle like mom and dad. Kids need extra love and attention when they are feeling under the weather. I am 45 years old and I still want my mom when I am sick. Your children are a gift to YOU! They need you.

Can't i Just Take my Kids to Daycare Sick?

Another reason children shouldn’t be at daycare when they are sick is because the childcare provider can’t give the kids as much extra attention as they need when they are sick. You might have one or two kids at home and when one is sick you can be there for them. A provider has maybe 6 other kids. They still have to take care of those 6. When kids are sick they want to be loved on and your provider wants to do that, but there is only so much they can do with a house full of children.

A provider has maybe 6 other kids. They still have to take care of those 6. When kids are sick they want to be loved on and your provider wants to do that, but there is only so much they can do with a house full of children.

sick kids, daycare

When kids have been having diarrhea or vomiting, why can’t they go to daycare when they no longer show signs? Kids should be kept home for 24 hours AFTER signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or fever are gone. Many things that cause these symptoms are contagious. You don’t want your child to spread those illnesses to the other children in care.

Can’t I Just Take my Kids to Daycare Sick?

You may think, oh, it’s just a childhood illness, it’s part of being a kid, but how would you feel if someone sent their kid to daycare with your child, that child vomited at daycare, and then your child became ill and vomited all over your house? Sometimes it’s hard to think about it. Cleaning up vomit and diarrhea is not fun for anyone.

If you see a rash or bumps on your child, and you don’t know what it is, get it checked by a doctor. Many things are super contagious and hard to get rid of such as impetigo, ringworm, scabies, staph and so many other things. Again, sending your child with an unknown condition can put many children at risk.

When to keep your child home sick from daycare

So what’s the big deal if the other kids get sick? My child is sick. Some conditions are very dangerous for very young children. Your provider may care for children who are very young. Take RSV for instance. It’s going around all over my town right now. Some of my children have had it.

I have had a young child in the past get RSV, and they spent two weeks in the hospital very very dangerously ill! Not every child has the immunity your child has. Not every child is old enough to cough up mucus. Not every child is strong. You never know what could harm someone else.

Does your provider keep very young infants? Are any of your provider’s daycare moms pregnant? Is there an elderly person in the home, or a special needs child, or a child with a compromised immune system? Your provider is considering all of these things when she decides who is too sick to stay.

How sick is too sick for school or daycare?

Here’s something else you may not have thought of. If you expose your PROVIDER to an illness and they become ill, they either have to work sick or close and you can’t go to work anyway. Not only can you not go to work, but 6 other families cannot either.

Working with a house full of kids when you are sick is MISERABLE! I do everything I can to work for my families. I know they need a reliable provider and I don’t want to let them down. If at all possible I don’t close for illness. There are a few exceptions of course, but I do what I can.

It’s so frustrating when a parent tries to bring a child who is ill. Providers don’t want to upset their parents and they don’t tell them they can’t stay to make their lives miserable. They have to consider ALL the kids and families in their care, not just yours. It’s your provider’s job to keep everyone’s best interest at heart. She loves your kids and she loves your family.

Think about everyone when you are deciding if your kids should go to daycare or if they really need to stay home. Please don’t just give them Tylenol and drop them off. We know you want to be a reliable employee, but your family comes first.

When to keep your sick kids home from school or daycare

If you’re in doubt about whether you should take your child to daycare, or if they are too sick, either give your provider a call and ask what she thinks or keep them home to be safe. I hope your kids stay well.

If you’re a provider, and you feel uneasy about a parent bringing a child because they may get the other kids sick, try to do what you would want as another parent in your childcare. You aren’t going to build a successful daycare business by letting sick kids come and get the other kids sick. It’s super hard to tell parents no, but sometimes it’s best for everyone else. Think about that too.  

Daycare sick policy

Here’s a reminder you can use.

too sick for work or school chart


Get your free printable version here.




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  1. Sandra Key says:

    Hi there, I love this article and would like to print for my parents. Do you have a printer friendly version?

  2. Cheryl Martin says:

    I love this article and would like to print for my parents. Do you have a printer friendly version?

  3. Paula Hirman says:

    You article is helpful. Just a quick spellcheck “when in doubt keep children home from school OR daycare (not are)”

  4. CB says:

    I totally agree with everything except the 99 degrees… That is not a fever whatsoever… that is normal body temperature fluctuation period A fever is more like 100.5 and up. A lot of centers don’t send home until 101. A fever is the body’s way of fighting off illness, not always illness itself. Also it’s not advised to give medication to lower the fever until it gets to 101.

  5. Faye says:

    I have a very strict sick policy and give examples similar to the examples in the article. Some parents understand with just the words while others need a more detailed explanation or “what if” or “how would you feel if,,,” scenario to understand what you saying. I also explain to not cover up symptoms; if this happens, the parents will be asked to pick up immediately. I have cared for children for 20 years now. One year, I had to close down for 2 weeks due to 2 families having a bug and I guess when both bugs mixed it caused a whammy on my system. It was a lesson well learned to the families.

    Thanks for providing the article.

  6. Donna says:

    Thank a toddler / preschool teacher. I have also Seen all types..
    your post left no holes. .now if all could just read this. .
    Cause I have had those parents that walk out and never come back ..when I tell them.their child can’t be here

    • I know people get upset sometimes and it’s understandable with the pressures of their job, but we have to stand firm even though it’s hard. It’s for the greater good. 🙂 It would be nice if that were more easily accepted all the time. Thanks for checking out this post!

  7. No. And you shouldn’t send your kids in sick to school either. That’s my own 2 cents of course.

  8. Dianne Beecraft says:

    I think parents should stay home with sick children. My daughter-in-law runs a home daycare. I don’t know if it’s because parents kept sending their sick children to her or not, but our grandson became ill and ended up in hospital with pneumonia and then had to be transferred by ambulance out of town to a bigger hospital 5 days later. He started with fever and virus, which then turned into pneumonia and then into a very rare, dangerous and potentially life threatening illness called Stephen Johnson Syndrome. It was an extremely scary time for everyone. He spent 3 1/2 weeks in hospital. He’s been home for almost two. He is still not allowed to go to school, be near ill people, has to go back to hospital immediately if he shows any sign of sickness and no sun exposure for 1 year. Rare, yes, but it could happen to anyone. All told, he’ll have missed at least 6 weeks of school minimum. That’s tough for a 9 year old. Keep your sick children home!! If you have to use some of your holidays, so be it!! It’s called being a parent!!

    • I can totally understand how you feel. I’m so sorry to hear your family went through that experience. And I’m so glad he’s getting better. It’s true you never know what could happen and it’s much better to be on the safe side.

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