When it comes to illness in daycare settings, diarrhea is one of the most frequently reported problems. It’s also one of the most contagious. That is why you should have a diarrhea policy as part of your daycare sickness policy. This blog post will first explore what diarrhea is and what causes it, then how to deal with diarrhea when it happens in your daycare. And finally, how to write a daycare diarrhea policy for your daycare contract.
Diarrhea in Daycare: What You Need to Know
Diarrhea is a common problem in daycare settings. Childcare providers need to be informed about the causes and symptoms of diarrhea so they can take steps to prevent its spread (If it happens to be viral).
Symptoms of Diarrhea
The main symptom of diarrhea is watery, loose stools. Other symptoms can include abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Diarrhea can also lead to dehydration, so it’s also important to watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, decreased urination, and dizziness.
Causes of Diarrhea
Many different things can cause diarrhea. One of the most common causes of diarrhea is a virus, such as the stomach flu. Other causes include bacteria, food intolerance, and certain medications. Diarrhea can also be a side effect of teething in infants.
How To Tell If Diarrhea Is From Teething, Food Reaction Or A Virus?
As a daycare provider, it’s crucial to distinguish between the different types of diarrhea so that you can provide the appropriate care. Here’s a quick guide to tell if diarrhea is caused by teething, a food reaction, or a virus.
The most common cause of diarrhea in young children is teething. Teething-related diarrhea is usually not accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever or vomiting. However, teething can cause a runny nose. If you suspect a child’s diarrhea is due to teething, try offering them a cold, wet cloth to chew on. Or, with the parent’s approval, give them over-the-counter pain medication according to the instructions on the package.
Food Reaction-Related Diarrhea
Diarrhea can also be caused by a food reaction, such as an allergy or intolerance. Food allergies can be more common in young children than adults and can cause symptoms like hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal distress. Intolerances are less severe than allergies but can still cause uncomfortable symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Or, simply giving a toddler too much fruit can cause diarrhea.
Finally, diarrhea can be due to a virus—such as the stomach flu—which is highly contagious and usually accompanied by other symptoms like fever, vomiting, and body aches. If you suspect a child has a virus, ask parents to pick up their child immediately and keep them home from daycare for at least 24 hours after the last occurrence of diarrhea.
What is the difference between explosive diarrhea and severe diarrhea?
Explosive diarrhea is the sudden and violent release of loose, watery stools. Abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating can be present as well. Explosive diarrhea can also be characterized as diarrhea that can not be contained in a diaper or a child can’t make it to the toilet in time. In contrast, severe diarrhea is characterized by a prolonged period of watery stool production. Although severe diarrhea can be uncomfortable, it does not usually lead to the same dramatic expulsion of the stool as explosive diarrhea. The cause of explosive diarrhea is typically unknown, but it may be due to a temporary viral infection or food intolerance. On the other hand, severe diarrhea is often due to bacterial infections or certain medications.
What should you do if one of the children in your care has diarrhea?
While each situation is unique, there are some general guidelines you can follow to develop a policy for dealing with diarrhea.
Two bouts and your out!! The first step is to send sick children home as soon as an illness is suspected. If a child shows up to daycare with diarrhea, send them home immediately. You don’t know how many occurrences have happened. Removing children with diarrhea will help prevent the spread of illness to other children and yourself.
If a child does come down with diarrhea while at daycare, it’s essential to take immediate action to clean up the affected area and disinfect all surfaces that may have been contaminated. You should also ensure that all caregivers and staff members wash their hands thoroughly and often. Any clothes or bedding that has been soiled should be removed and washed.
How To Disinfect Contaminated Areas
First, it is vital to identify all areas that may have come in contact with diarrhea. Contaminated areas include changing pads, floor, toys, bedding, and clothing. Once you remove all contaminated materials, you should clean the area thoroughly with soap and water. Next, you should use a disinfectant solution to clean all surfaces. Finally, it would be best to wash all toys and bedding in hot water or a sanitizing setting.
Finally, you’ll need to decide how long a child must stay home after having diarrhea. As a general rule of thumb, children should not return to daycare for at least 24 hours after their last episode of diarrhea. Staying home will help ensure that they are no longer contagious before returning to daycare.
A daycare diarrhea policy should set clear instructions for what to do if children in your care have diarrhea.
A diarrhea policy should include guidelines for the following:
- How are you going to handle if a child has diarrhea in your care? Will you send them home after the first occurrence of diarrhea or wait for two or more occurrences in a specific period of time?
- How do you plan on cleaning up contaminated areas? (Washing hands and disinfecting surfaces)
- How long do children have to wait before returning to daycare?
Your diarrhea policy should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it still meets the needs of your daycare. Additionally, all staff members should be aware of this policy and know how to implement it.
Example Daycare Diarrhea Policy
If your child has two or more explosive diarrhea occurrences within a two-hour time period while at daycare, we will ask you to pick up your child. We will take immediate action to clean up the affected area and disinfect all surfaces that may have been contaminated. Any soiled clothes or bedding will be placed in a disposable bag for you to wash and return to the daycare.
Children should stay home for at least 24 hours after their last episode of diarrhea. Staying home will help ensure that they are no longer contagious before returning to daycare.
Dealing with diarrhea in a daycare setting can be tricky. However, by following some simple guidelines—such as keeping sick children at home and taking immediate action to clean up affected areas—you can help prevent the spread of this highly contagious illness.