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Daycare for babies (up to 18 months) - cleanness concerns???

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

My daughter started a daycare this week, and I have some concerns about cleanness standards in the room. To start with, the staff does not change their shoes when they come to work. Given that many babies in this group can't walk yet (they range in age anywhere between 10 and 18 months) I am really concerned about this fact. My daughter puts her hands into her mouth all the time, and she crawls on the floor where 5 teachers bring the dirt every day from the outside. There is no visible dirt of course, they mop the floor daily but they walk in these shoes on the streets, in subway, in public washrooms, etc. I feel really uncomfortable thinking that all that dirt from their shoes goes on the floor where my daughter crawls all day. The kids eat 3-4 times a day but their hands are being washed only once a day - before the lunch. I understand it's not easy to wash their hands, they are very little yet so at least I would expect the staff to maintain the room as clean as possible. I talked to the head teacher about this today but got only something like "well, we do not do it here". She brought up a number of excuses like it's very busy, and they do change shoes when it's getting cold and wet outside (what about the warm months??), and the kids need some exposure to germs to grow their immunity - which is ridiculous reason for this particular situation, etc. She also said that they never had any problems with this in the past, and that no one ever brought this as a concern which is not true - I talked to another mom who brought this up with this teacher just yesterday.


The teacher said that she would talk to her staff and ask them if they would be willing to change their shoes but I think it was just a way to softpedal the situation, and I don't think this should be up to the teachers to decide whether to change shoes or not - I think this should be required. She also mentioned that the school policy does not require them to change shoes which points out a way of addressing the situation - try to change the policy. I guess my next step would be to go the school principal and talk about this (the school goes from 1 year olds to grade 8 - it's a pretty big Montessori school). Not sure if I should go - if I go and get my way I don't know if the teachers would not treat my baby bad just because I stirred the things up, complained, etc. Any thoughts? If your babies are in a daycare - is there any policy about this issue? Do teachers change their shoes? 

post #2 of 18

I really don't have good news.  I'm sorry.


My kids went to a lovely daycare (they've aged out of it), and I can't remember whether the staff changed shoes or not.  I remember the subject coming up sometimes when I was looking at daycares.  The basic unfortunate fact, however, is that daycares are filthy.  They're gigantic petrie dishes full of contagious illness, and because of the nature of babies and toddlers, they pretty much always will be.  The very best daycare, with the utmost concern for health and hygiene, and a professional janitorial service coming through daily, is still going to end up hip deep in germs.  The reason to prefer the daycares that clean aggressively is that your child is less likely to be injured there.  They'll still get sick.


The other basic unfortunate fact is that, no matter how aggressive you are about cleaning your house, it may not be any better.  I walk across my house in street shoes all the time.  The plan is for me to take my shoes off in the mudroom, but DD has a tendency to try them on and clomp around with them.  Sometimes I get home and sneak straight upstairs, without pausing to take my shoes off, so that I can put my pajamas on before the kids land on me.  DS and DD both have to be reminded to take their shoes off, and sometimes a dash to the potty is more urgent then shoe removal.  And I don't manage to mop every day.


When I come in to the daycare and walk across the room in my street shoes to hand over my kid and put her bag in her cubby, I'm tracking whatever street stuff I walked in across the floor, and it's going to get spread around all day, no matter what shoes everyone else in the room is wearing.  Your daycare is in an elementary school, so the traffic in the hallways will be heavy, and every time a daycare staff member sets foot outside the baby room, she's going to come back with those outside germs on her shoes.  Making staff change their shoes doesn't make the floor have less germs on it.  I would drop it about the policy, not because I wouldn't want to seem like a troublemaker, but because I think special indoor shoes don't make things better.


Handwashing - in my experience it occurred oftener then it appeared on the schedule, but usually consisted of an adult using the same washcloth to wipe off a bunch of kids' hands - making it a means of transferring all the germs to everyone in the room.  However, washing a young toddler's hands in the sink is going to leave everyone soaking, and actual cleanliness will still be questionable.


I have seen my children crawl up to other babies and lick them.  I have seen one child taste a toy, consider it, and pass it to another child to taste.  I believe that actually there is not much you can do about hygiene that will make any difference at all with babies and young toddlers.  Daycares do their best, and then they isolate anyone who appears ill as quickly as they can, but that's really all they can do.

post #3 of 18

I have worked in a daycare- a very by-the-book one associated with a university, etc.  We didn't change shoes.  But we DID absolutely wash hands before every time eating.  And as a mom now I am concerned about what I track in on my shoes and work to avoid exposing my 1-year-old to it.  I would especially bring up the fact that children's source of lead exposure is often contaminated soil.  This is true for tons of toxins but there is lots of official statements about lead- try American Academy of Pediatrics web page for info on lead and I bet it's written there.  It has the potential to be well-received, or at least not something they could reasonably argue with.  Good Luck!

post #4 of 18
Our daycare is a shoe-free place. Parents take shoes off before coming in for dropp off or pickup, teachers are in socks, and now that kids are walking and wearing shoes, they leave them in a bin by the door (one of my favorite things is watching Alex pick out his shoes at the end of the day--I'm amazed that he can pick out his brown ones from the pile!).

Hand washing is required when you get there (parents and kids), and kids wash hands before both snacks and lunch. Now that kids are starting to do stand up diaper changes and sit on the potty, they wash hands after diaper time, too.

I really appreciate those rules, even when wrestling a toddler at the sink at drop off when I'm running late. And it doesn't seem very burdensome. I'd push to see if other parents would appreciate similar rules, and ask the director. I'm sure teachers would appreciate having fewer runny noses to wipe down the line smile.gif

We're way more lax at home smile.gif I WANT to have a shoe free home, but I'm usually the first one to break that rule.
Edited by CascadiaMama - 10/5/12 at 9:31pm
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow, shoe-free... that's an interesting choice :) In our daycare that would not work - I would be the first one to protest because the floors are pretty cold. At this time of the year there is no heating yet, and the daycare is on the first floor, and even thought it's a fairly new and modern building the floors are cold. In our daycare in terms of shoes there is actually another somewhat strange policy - kids do not take their shoes off when they sleep. I asked why, and was told that it's because of fire safety procedures - the kids should be ready to evacuation and have shoes on at all times. Sounds a bit strange to me, pre-toddler room is literally two meters away from the entrance to the building, if there is a fire you can take kids out without their shoes on if you ask me. But because of that policy kids can't sleep normally with their feet getting some rest, and besides, they are getting used to the idea that sleeping in bed in shoes is normal.


Love your hands washing policy!


To MeepyCat - that makes sense, I see what you mean about floors and transferring germs... 

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

About lead - I have never heard this one before but will look it up. Don't thing this is something that would be considered anyway but at least will know for myself.

post #7 of 18

I agree I would never think to make my house shoe free (I run a home daycare), but I do wash the kids hands after they come in from outside, and before they eat, and if they have used the toilet. I wash my hands between diaper changes. Once a day is not enough hand washing by a long stretch.

post #8 of 18

I visited the day care where my friends children went.  Parents where expected either not to walk into the day care room but have the child bought to them or wear those disposable booties, the kind that surgeons and such wear.  Maybe that would be an option if they don't want to change their shoes?



post #9 of 18
Our daycare has the sticky mats in the infant room entrance. They get most of the dirt off.
post #10 of 18

The daycare I used to take my daughter too, used those booties as well.  You had to take shoes off or put the booties on, they did this for every classroom with crawlers, as the kids moved up to the 2 year room, you could just walk in.


In the end my daughter was so sick for months that I pulled her, daycare isn't for us right now.  I expected she would get sick but it was ear infection after stomach flu followed by pink eye. 

post #11 of 18

Are your from Russia by any chance?


I was so paranoid at first about shoes not being change, kid sleeping on mats etc etc etc.


Reality is, non of those thing really protect anyone from anything and we need germs for proper germ development.


Believes me, if you culture swabs form your own house where you change shoes etc, you will be terrified of what will grow in the PEtri dish.


The only red flag that jumps out at me is that they do not wash kids hand before each meal. They need to do it. Or use wipes.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
In the end my daughter was so sick for months that I pulled her, daycare isn't for us right now.  I expected she would get sick but it was ear infection after stomach flu followed by pink eye. 


OMG, that's just a horror story!!! I am keeping my fingers crossed this won't happen to us even though I do know that she'll get sick just like everyone else. A friend of mine also had to pull her son out of daycare for 5 months because he was sick almost non-stop.



Are your from Russia by any chance?


 Ha-ha, as a matter of fact I am :) Is it a national paranoid idea about changing shoes? :) But I'm not the only one who was concerned about this in our daycare, I've spoken to two more moms who thought the same thing.


I agree with you certain exposure to germs is necessary. I myself try to limit use of Lysol and other antibacterial cleaners and rather than that clean with hot steam, baking soda etc. 


I'll ask them about washing hands one more time (or at least using wipes). I know that they are using wet cloths for cleaning hands but not sure how it's done. Someone mentioned earlier "Handwashing occurred oftener then it appeared on the schedule, but usually consisted of an adult using the same washcloth to wipe off a bunch of kids' hands - making it a means of transferring all the germs to everyone in the room.". If it's done like this then it's better to leave things as is. 


Speaking of wipes, how safe could it be to clean hands with wipes? Lots of wipes nowadays contain dyes and chemicals that kids would be eating if their hands are cleaned with wipes. I'm using "7th generation" wipes that have "no alcohol, synthetic cleaners, dyes or fragrances. Whitened without chemicals containing chlorine". I assume these might be safer to use for cleaning hands but plain water would be probably the best, even if without soap. 


Overall, after reading this thread I have relaxed a bit about this issue (changing shoes), it was good to hear everyone's input. 

post #13 of 18

I would relax a little bit. A lot of hygene ideas from Russia are nothing but superstisious brainwashing.


CIe water does not cause strep throat.


Draft do not cause colds and flu.


Sitting on the cold stone does not cause ovarian issues.



There veriety of whipes ont eh marketm, but if you want to kill gemrs, you need to have  disenfecting agend of some sort. Everything has chemicals.


Kids get sick a lot in day care and preshool.  However, it gets better by K-1 st grade

post #14 of 18

My daycare is not shoe free either...But, I do wash their hands all day.  I am wondering if maybe you are mistaken about the hand washing policy?  That would bother me too.


As far as the shoes go, I think I would lighten up a bit.  I've been working in daycares in the early 80s, and I've never seen one be shoe free, yet nobody seems to get unusually sick.   I DID work on one infant room though, where the adults took shoes off so we didn't step on the babies hands.  But, there was never any mention of germs.


I wouldn't let an infant on a public bathroom floor, but I'd let one play on the sidewalk or patio, or even in the grass.

post #15 of 18

I'm a HUGE advocate of shoe removal indoors.  Our home is shoe-free, and I would be just as uncomfortable as you are with a daycare that wasn't.  I am actually pretty unconcerned with "germs," but tremendously concerned about chemicals.  Ever seen someone out on their sidewalk spraying pesticide into the cracks?  I see this often.  If you pay attention, you'll witness it too.  Most parks spray all around the trees to prevent weeds.  This contaminates sidewalks as well as streets.  Think about all of the oils and chemicals that come off of vehicles and end up in the streets.  And then just simply the contamination in the air that lands in tiny particles on the ground everywhere.  Most cities have lead awareness campaigns that give out information on how to limit your (and especially your child's) exposure to lead.  One thing they will almost always mention is that lead-contaminated soil is a common way that small children (especially crawlers) get exposed.  Most of these campaigns encourage shoe removal when indoors.


There is much in life to worry about.  We've all got to choose what we're okay with and what we're not okay with.  And it will be different for everyone.  Everywhere we go, we're exposed to chemicals, of course.  There are times when I'm at other people's houses, who don't have shoes-off homes, and I just deal with it.  Whatever.  I'm not excited about it, and you can bet I'm thinking about it, but that's life.  It's fine.  I don't keep my son off the floor; I just try to make sure I wash off his hands and change his clothes as soon as I can.  But to me, taking shoes off in my own home is so easy to do (relatively) that it seems silly not to.  And if there were a place outside our home where my son was spending a lot of time, I'd sure want to make sure the floor was as safe and clean as possible.


It would be so easy to have all of the teachers and all of the kids keep a warm pair of slippers (or even special indoor-only shoes) at the school, and just slip into those when in the building.  i know of lots of schools that do this.

post #16 of 18

This is so strange to read about all these daycares that don't have a no shoe policy.  I've worked in several different infant rooms at different centers and we always have a no shoe policy.  Most teachers wear socks or sometimes slippers.  We also have shoe covers available, and the parents have to take off their shoes or use shoe covers before entering the room.  We drop the no shoe policy once all the infants are walking.


When an infant puts a toy in their mouth, we take that toy away once they are done and put it in a bin to be disinfected at the end of the day.


Washing everyone's hands with one washcloth would be a licensing violation here. 

post #17 of 18

It is chemicals not germs to be concerned about. Having a shoe policy should be a no-brainer. I'd be concerned about any food they are serving if they can't even handle shoes. An air conditioning contractor showed up at my house the other day and had the common courtesy to wear "booties". I'm satisfied with my child's daycare but have heard similar stories like this

Edited by Andrew Singer - 1/19/13 at 4:40pm
post #18 of 18
My daycare had a no shoe policy in the infant rooms, not like the floor doesn't get dirty still, but it helps some and yes it is more the god-knows-what lawn chemicals and everything else moreso than the dirt. Parents took their shoes off to come in the room, babies could wear their shoes if they were indoor-only shoes, and caregivers would either change shoes or wear slippers/footies. I think all 4 daycare centers I looked at had no shoe policies in the infant rooms.

Kids are going to share germs no matter what and I tend to be relaxed about it, but still you have to keep a certain level of trying to prevent it and keeping things clean.
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