Attendance at Child Care

Should my child be in care with this illness?

Stomach-Ache ~ Vomiting ~ Diarrhea

A child with vomiting and/or diarrhea should be kept at home for 24 hours* after symptoms have resolved and the child is able to keep down food and fluids. Consult your doctor if fever and stomach pains last more than 24 hours or your child eats or drinks poorly and looks dehydrated (dry mouth, no tears, sunken eyes, urinates less than 4 times in 24 hours). Remember to wash your hands and the child's hands frequently.

*Source: Caring for Our Children, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Public Health Association

When you call your doctor, you need to know:

  1. When the illness began.
  2. How often the vomiting or diarrhea is occurring.
  3. If your child has lost any weight.
  4. If your child also has a fever.
  5. If your child is able to drink and keep down fluids.

Red Eyes

When the white part of the eye appears red and produces a clear, white, yellow or crusty discharge:

Your child may have conjunctivitis. Call your doctor if the discharge is white, yellow or green and keep your child home. Your child may return to child care after 24 hours or treatment. If your child has a watery discharge, he/she does not need to stay home unless there are other signs of an illness such as a rash or fever.

Remember: the best way to prevent illness is by washing your hands and your child's hands frequently. Give your child a separate towel and washcloth.

Cold ~ Sore Throat ~ Cough

Children average three to eight colds per year, ten if they are in child care. If cold and cough symptoms are associated with a fever or the symptoms do not improve in several days, call your doctor. Your child may attend child care if there is not fever.

A sore throat, with a fever and swollen glands, may mean strep throat. Call your doctor to have your child evaluated. Children with strep throat who do not have fevers may return to care after 24 hours on antibiotics.

When you call your doctor, you need to know:

  1. When the symptoms began.
  2. If your child has a fever.
  3. Has your child been exposed to any serious illness?
  4. The type of cold medicines you have at home.


Your child may not attend child care with a fever.

Fevers are usually signs of infection. Make sure that you have a thermometer at home and can take your child's temperature. Check with your doctor for the best anti-fever medication for your child. If the fever is associated with other symptoms, call your doctor.


A rash may be due to a virus or may be a reaction to a medication or chemical (plant, detergents). If your child has a rash that is associated with a fever, contact your doctor. Keep your child home from child care until you have discussed the rash with your doctor.

Remember to wash your hands and your child's hand frequently.

When you call your doctor, you need to know:

  1. When the rash began.
  2. The location, color and texture of the rash.
  3. If your child has a fever.
  4. If your child has been exposed to other children with contagious illness (such as chickenpox).


Earache: Your child may have an ear infection. Consult your doctor. To relieve pain, give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen as recommended by your child's doctor. If your child does not have a fever and/or is not in severe pain, the child may attend child care.

Toothache: Call a dentist.

Headache: A child should be kept at home if headaches are severe and do not respond to acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Consult your doctor if the headaches persist.

This information is not intended as medical advice, but as simple guidelines to follow until you can contact your doctor or healthcare provider for advice.

At your child's annual check-up it is wise to discuss what should be done in the event of an illness, how and where to contact the doctor, and what medications should be available in your home. Also, talk to your child care provider about her illness policies.