My son started daycare at 6 weeks old. I remember the heartbreak of leaving him (he was so little!) and the relief of picking him up on that first day (he had gotten bigger!). I did love that facility - the nurturing attitude, the brightly lit rooms, the web cameras for me to check in on him throughout the day.
What I didn't love was that every time my son moved rooms, or a new child came into the room, he got sick. We sometimes wondered if we were sending him to school or to a giant petri dish. We soon recognized the formula:
Exposure to a new child = new germs = sickness.
Sometimes it was as simple as a cold (not that colds are simple with babies), but other times it was the dreaded Gastroenteritis, and there had to be discussions about which lucky parent was going to stay home for an admittedly rough day of diaper duty.
I believed in the collective wisdom that exposure to germs at an earlier age meant that my son would have fewer sicknesses later on in life. Now that wisdom has been backed up by a study indicating that children that get daycare bugs get other bugs less frequently by the time they are in first grade.
But there is also the evidence of my own household: My son is really healthy. Despite the occasional mild cold, we have just gotten through the entire school year with only one major sickness. I consider that a win knowing that there were more than a few major gastro bugs spreading throughout his classroom this past year.
And now, as we are about to start summer camp, I wonder if his immunity will hold out, or if he will immediately come home with a mild sickness from all that exposure to new children and new germs.
Are you worried about your child getting sick from exposure to other children in daycare? Tell me your fears in the comments.