Starting school, day care or nursery

Top tips for battling the back to school bugs

One thing you’ll notice when your child starts, or goes back to school, nursery or day care is that they seem to get unwell – all the time.

But don’t worry. Going back to school is an exciting time for your child as they learn new things and catch up with friends. The downside is that germs can spread very easily in this kind of environment – so your child is likely to catch a few bugs.

Washing your hands

It sounds obvious, but washing your hands with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent germs and bacteria from spreading. Teach you child to wash their hands:

  • Before eating
  • After going to the toilet
  • After playing with a pet or animal
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose
  • After touching something dirty (e.g. chewed pencils, used tissue etc.)
  • Whenever they look dirty
  • When your child starts school, nursery or day care for the first time, take a look around together and show your child where they can wash their hands.

Using tissues

Germs can be spread through the air when we cough or sneeze. Encourage your child to use a tissue when they cough, sneeze or have a runny nose, to put it in the bin, and to wash their hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap.

If they do not have a tissue, rather than coughing into their hands, encourage them to cough or sneeze into their elbow or upper arm to help prevent the spread of bacteria.

Keep them away from school when necessary

If your child is too unwell to take part in group activities they should be kept away from school. This is best as this will help stop germs from being passed on to other children, and give your child time to get well.

Ask at your child’s school, nursery or day care centre for their advice on exclusion times.

First aid at home

As your child grows and begins to explore the world, they’re sure to encounter the odd scratch or graze. Keep a first aid box at home for minor cuts and grazes, ideally containing:

  • Plasters and sterile dressings
  • Latex (or equivalent) gloves
  • Antiseptic Liquid
  • Antiseptic Cream
  • Safety pins and scissors
  • Hypoallergenic tape and gauze


Treat any injury as soon as possible.

Wash your hands and clean the affected area carefully. Once dry, cover it with a sterile dressing or plaster and wash your hands again.

If your child’s wound looks serious, don’t try and treat it yourself. Dial 111 and speak to a medical professional or visit your local accident and emergency department.