Summer is coming to a close and it’s time to head back to school! As the weather starts to get cooler and kids are spending more time in classrooms, germs are more likely to run rampant. Especially as cold and flu season approaches, it is important to have a strategy to keep your family healthy. As much as we would love to prevent kids from getting sick at all, contact with germs is important for your child’s immune system. 

Kids getting sick is, for the most part, inevitable. But of course, nobody wants to feel icky! So, when one child is feeling under the weather, it is best practice to limit the exposure of everyone else in your household. Keeping everyone as healthy as possible, including yourself, can be key to giving your sick kid the best possible care, so they can feel well again as soon as possible! So, here are our top tips on keeping germs contained when your little one is sick.

Keeping Clean

One of the best defenses against cold and flu viruses is…you guessed it, handwashing! Germs can spread easily through touching items in your home. That means keeping everyone’s hands clean is crucial to stop the spread of germs. Remind everyone to wash their hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. To help kids make this practice a habit, teach them that they should sing the happy birthday song twice before they start to dry off their hands.

Remember, it’s not only your child’s hands that are important. Be cautious about what you touch, especially if you are preparing food for other members of your household. As a second defense, sanitizing hands, objects, and surfaces such as toys and doorknobs is an excellent way to cut down germs in high traffic areas of your home. If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, be extra vigilant when disinfecting the bathroom, especially the toilet and sink. Keep in mind that you can only do your best. You can’t get rid of all the germs but good practices can prevent others from coming into contact with them and getting sick.

Reduce Concern

Perhaps the most obvious, and important, strategy to stop the spread of germs in your household is to reduce contact between your sick child and the other members of your family. While there is usually no need for a quarantine inside your home, keeping children separated as much as possible when one is sick is often a good idea. Avoid a healthy child hugging or cuddling up with someone who is sick. Keep them across the room from each other or in separate rooms on days when your child is especially symptomatic.

Another very important way to keep germs contained is by avoiding sharing items in your home without cleaning them first. Especially things that come into contact with the mouth, such as utensils, cups, plates, food, pacifiers, toothbrushes, and even toys. So, if your child uses an often shared object in your home, be sure to wash or sanitize it before putting it away or passing it on for another person’s use.

Work Together

Teamwork within families is a highly effective way to reduce the likelihood that more family members will get sick. When it comes to preparing food, always try to avoid a sick person making or serving food for healthy household members. If you have a sick teen, don’t have them make food for their younger sibling or clean up other siblings’ toys if you can avoid it. Similarly, if you start to feel symptoms, have another member of your household prepare food for healthy people if possible. 

Beyond this, work together to take advantage of teachable moments. Help your children learn how to properly cough into their elbow and sneeze into tissues to prevent the spread of viruses. Help each other stay accountable for handwashing, sanitizing, distancing, and other important tactics for keeping your family healthy when you have a sick kid.

Healthy Habits

While doing your best to stop the spread of germs is important, maintaining good habits can be equally as beneficial to keeping your family feeling happy and healthy. When one member of your family is sick, eating a good, balanced diet and getting quality sleep is necessary to keep the immune system running smoothly. Ideally, anyone in the household who is not sick should be exercising regularly to boost their immune systems. 

Practice good hygiene by picking up any used tissues and getting rid of them right away. Then, of course, don’t forget to wash your hands! Perhaps the best way to protect your whole family during cold and flu season is to get any overdue vaccinations completed before the start of the school year. Not only will this offer you peace of mind, especially if you have elderly or immunocompromised family members, but it can help avoid bringing a nasty flu into your home in the first place!

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, our mission is to support and protect the health of your children. That often means helping you keep your entire household as healthy as possible. We hope these tips help you stop the spread of germs in your home when you have a sick kid. For more tips on how to keep your family in the best health possible, reach out to your knowledgeable Coastal Kids Pediatrician. To make an appointment, visit us at