Monday, November 26, 2012

Ear Infections and Babysitting Co-op

With more than 3 out of every 4 children getting an ear infection before age 3, you can bet the kids in your babysitting co-op will be dealing with this painful problem. As a co-op parent, is it wise to take a child with an ear infection to someone else's house? And is it wise to have other children at your own home for a co-op shift while your own child is sick? Let's take a look at these issues.

First, determine whether or not the ear pain is really an infection. Sometimes children experience ear pain when they're teething or when they have a cold. If the ear seems to be hurting and the child has a fever, it's a good idea to see your pediatrician.

Ear infections themselves are not contagious, so you don't have to worry about he infection spreading to other kids. However, ear infections are often secondary infections to viruses such as the common cold, and these viruses are contagious. If you determine that your child just has an ear infection without an accompanying cold, it's fine to have him around other children. If he's being cared for by another co-op parent, just let the parent know what's going on and whether or not they need to administer any antibiotics while you're gone.

If your child seems to have an underlying virus, however, be very cautious about letting him spend time with other children. The common cold is most contagious on days 3 through 5. The tell-tale signs of the common cold are a cough or a runny or stuffy nose. If your child is in this stage of a cold, call off your own co-op shifts and don't take him to anybody else's house for babysitting. You don't want to spread the cold around the whole co-op.

In the meantime, remind your kids (and the co-op kids, too) to wash their hands well after using the bathroom and before eating. Hand washing is especially important this time of year when the air is dry and sneezes can carry germs farther.

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