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I posted this in the Health and Healing Forum, but got no reply... so I'm hoping someone here might have some insight. I have a 2-year old (who is still breastfeeding and getting immunity benefits) and we stay at home... occasionally someone makes a comment implying that my dd should be in preschool/daycare so she'll have more exposure to other kids and so her immune system can develop.

I understand you're not supposed to keep your kids in a bubble because exposure to germs will build their immune system. And I've heard that kids who go to preschool supposedly get sick less when they go to kindergarten than kids who stayed home. But I don't understand why this is preferable... is it better for young babies/toddlers to get sick than for a 5-year old to get sick?? I don't really understand how immunity build-up works, so can someone explain this to me? Seems like a younger child (who's developing at a faster rate) would miss out on a lot more developmentally-speaking when under stress due to a cold than an older child. So why should you expose kids to germs when they're younger?
 

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I'm sure you will get a lot from people who don't feel like I do-

I DO NOT favor the under 5 exposure thing- germs are one thing, be it a daycare or a play park- one of my BIG issues is the cleaners they use to SUPER CLEAN, I don't want that exposure!!

and MY Ped is NOT a fan of the under 5 (regardless of the study) and feels building a strong system is the key and constantly having a cold after a cold is not really building it in a natural setting. (not to mention how some need antibiotics after antibiotics!!) I tend to think having 10+ colds a year is a bit much and I know several kids going on a dozen a year

I personally know so many that buy into the under 5 and surprise, surprise, turn 5 and older and still out of school a lot.
 

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My ped told me that younger kids don't get quite a sick as older kids. So, some say, exposing them while they are younger benefits their immune systems with less drama than if they were exposed when older.

But, germs evolve constantly. The flu and colds your kiddo gets exposed to now are not the same flu and colds they will be exposed to in kindergarten.

My nephew entered daycare at around 3 and rarely got sick... now he's in kindergarten and still rarely gets sick. I have another friend who's 2 year old just entered daycare and is ALWAYS sick, it seems like. Yet another friend who's kiddo entered pre-school at age 2 and got several rounds of colds and flus in the first six months... but now rarely gets sick (and she is in 1st grade now).

I'm pointing out all of these examples to just say that I think every kid is different. We all have different immune systems and different responses to being exposed to the same illnesses and environments.

So... while I think young children should absolutely NOT live in a super clean/germ free environment, I don't think exposing them to a germ heavy environment is a guarantee of a strong immune system later either.
Have playdates, play outside, go shopping together... there are ample germs out there to expose your child to without needing a daycare environment to do so.
So if you want you kid to go to daycare for socializing or for buying you a few hours of "me-time" a couple days a week that's great. But I don't think you should send your child to daycare for the sole purpose of building up an immune system.

JMHO... I'm not a doctor, of course...
 

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I think you're doing fine mama. FWIW, I am in the same boat..I SAH with 2.5 yr old DS. I have heard these comments too, but I just don't see it that way. He goes places with us and he plays outside alot, and of course he eats dirt or whatever occasionally, and he is very healthy so far. IMHO, feeding your child a healthy, organic diet and letting them play outdoors, and not vaxing, are the best ways to keep them healthy. and of course breastfeeding but obviously you know that.

I definitely would not send my child to daycare or preschool so that they would be exposed to more germs. No way.
 

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Wow, lilmom, so you're basically implying that when my kid is sick I as a mother am doing something wrong? Be it vaxing my kid, not breastfeeding or not feeding organic foods?

Sounds like you're doing everything right?

I myself am not a fan of superclean environments. My kids go to daycare and obviously - with them being sick a lot - the daycare isn't superclean. It's normal to get sick, I don't see the big problem and I don't see why you would want to 'protect' your kid from any kind of germ until they are 6 and miss day after day at school (unless you homeschool of course).
 

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I stay at home with my 16 month old daughter, but we do a co-op pre-preschool program for a couple hours twice a week, and she has definitely gotten colds and the like from the other kids. I also think she's gotten germ exposure from the indoor playspace we go to, and the kid gym we go to. For us, we decided that the clear benefits she is getting from these activities outweigh the downside of her getting more colds than she would if we just stayed home. Personally, I would not do any of these group-child-activities just to _seek_ germ exposure -- but she loves being with the other kids, and she gets so much pleasure and mental and physical stimulation from these activities that we're willing to accept the extra germs.
 

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Seriously, I don't think you need to worry. Does your child ever accompany you to the grocery store? Or the doctor's office? The mall? The playground? There are tons of germs all over the place. There are plenty of opportunities, for better or for worse, without preschool or day care.
 

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I am a SAH mom of a 2 year old I breastfeed him (exclusively till 7 monswhen we introduced solids) he has never been vaxed, I feed him mostly organic naturally raised whole foods and filtered water, I give him homeopathic supplements and naturally sourced vitamins, we get outside at least once a day, I only use natural cleaners, etc. He is not in preschool/daycare but we do go to playgroups sometimes, indoor playgrounds, science centre etc and I always get him to wash hands when we get home and often throughout the day.

All this to say that he has had many colds and even broncialitis twice that required us to go to the hospital for breathing treatments. During the spring and fall it seems he gets cold after cold although they are usually pretty mild (aside from the broncialitis)

Anyway I think that we all need to relax about hyper cleanliness, I do not believe in using antibacterial soaps etc in a normally healthy setting (home, school, mall, etc). I read somewhere that one of the reasons it seems that kids get sick a lot is because there are hundreds of cold and flu strains and that we as adults have been exposed to many of them throughout our lives but because our LO's have not been it appears that they are sick often. It is in fact just there immune system developing.

I wouldn't go out of my way to expose my child to illness (well except for chicken pox) and I am pretty laid back in keeping him away from illness (when his friend is sick we don't share food we have bitten or drinking cups but when everyone is healthy we often do) Kids are going to get sick (most of them often) it just may not happen at the same period in their life. Yes a child that has been at home with limited group settings until school will most likely get sick when they go to school and prob mostly during the first year or so because they are "catching up" on being exposed to the cold and flu virus.

Is it easier or better for them to do this when younger? For me it sucked when DS was a baby and couldn't really be proactive in helping himself get relief from a cold (like breathing through his mouth more, adjusting his body while sleeping if he got stuffed up, taking supplements, telling me what he needs, being distracted by the TV/books, etc) Colds, although they still suck, are easier to deal with now that he is 2. I do however hope that he is exposed more so while he is still nursing and I can support his immune system, give him fluids, nourishment, comfort, pain relief, etc. I think with a non-nursing child that colds would be easier a little older as long as missing school isn't a big deal.
 

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I hate to say it, but a lot of the time I think its just truly genes at play. I would like to think my crunchy ways have protected my dd from illness (not so crunchy for MDC but compared to everything else I know) because we BF into toddlerhood, eat fresh produce, use natural cleaning products, etc but the reality is, is that I just come from really healthy stock and my dd inherited that.

She does go to daycare but its more like a nanny situation, just out of her home (she only watches my child and her own two) and I don't think she cleans with anything that harsh either. Her kids are in pre-k and third grade, however and THEY get sick but my dd doesn't. I haven't had the flu in 12 years. Violet has had two colds in her 2.5 year existence


I do agree with the PP who does not like how conventional daycares clean. I have seen the requirements and to me they are frightening - constant bleaching. Very bad for the system to be around that so often.
 

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I'm not a SAHM but my DS does not go to daycare. DH and I tag team care by working opposite shifts.

Anyway, my DS just got over having Coxsackie virus which is typically a summer disease. The pedi even asked if went to daycare or been around other kids lately (he hadn't). I say this to demonstrate that those pesky germs can be picked up anywhere. In the week prior to my DS getting sick, he had really only been out with me to a few stores. So either he picked it up by touching something or my DH brought it home (he works with school age kids).

As PP said, there are so many strains of colds that having 20-30 of them before 5 doesn't mean you won't have them later. Kids just get sick and depending on genes, some more than others.
 
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