Sending your child off to daycare might seem like the perfect plan in your mind. You get to work and run errands, while your little one gets socialized in a safe and entertaining environment. After your child repeatedly comes home coughing and sneezing, however, you may be tempted to cancel your enrollment. But don’t panic just yet. While parents don’t want to see their children feel under the weather, daycare and diseases have always gone hand in hand.

“Any time you have a large group of kids, you’ll have germs,” stated Cleveland Clinic pediatrician Amy Sniderman, M.D.

“Kids get sick at higher rates in daycare.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, children get sick at higher rates during preschool because their immune systems aren’t used to being around the germs and bacteria their classmates are carrying. Once children enter kindergarten and first grade, however, their bodies are usually better at fighting off diseases, and they get sick less often.

While most children will inevitably fall ill at daycare while their immune systems grow stronger, there are certain things you can do to reduce the frequency and severity of their sick days. Here are four tips for keeping your little one healthy at daycare.

1. Talk about hand washing 
As an adult, you know how important it is to regularly wash your hands. Kids, however, don’t naturally make the connection between dirty fingers and getting sick. Parents magazine explained that scrubbing your hands with soap and water has been shown to reduce your chances of contracting gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses – both of which are omnipresent in daycares. Starting at home, get your kids into a hand-washing routine by telling them they need to clean up after being outside, after going to the bathroom and before they eat.

Explain to them that they need to wash well when they’re at daycare, too. The magazine suggested telling your kids to sing “Happy Birthday” twice through while they wash. Not only will this make the process a little more fun, but it will keep them scrubbing for 15-20 seconds, which is the recommended hand-washing time.

Protect your little one from getting sick at daycare.
Protect your little one from getting sick at daycare.

2. Practice healthy habits at home 
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to instill healthy habits in your kids. This is especially true when it comes to small children, as their fragile immune systems need all the boosts they can get. Try to cook well-balanced meals, encourage kids to stay active, and set strict bedtimes so they get plenty of rest. Failing to make healthy choices when it comes to these lifestyle factors would weaken a strong adult immune system, let alone that of a young kid in daycare.

3. Get your children vaccinated 
Many daycares demand children to be up-to-date with their vaccines, but you should have your child vaccinated even if it’s not a requirement. Chances are that another child in his or her class hasn’t been given the proper shots, and you don’t want your little one to contract an avoidable illness. Fox News recommended asking your daycare what its policies are concerning staff vaccinations as well, as teachers can also be a source of germs. When flu season rolls around, take your child to a Carewell Urgent Care center for a flu shot, as this contagious illness can be extremely dangerous for babies and young kids.

4. Choose the right daycare 
On the outside, your daycare choices might all look the same. Their internal policies and procedures, however, could make all the difference when it comes to keeping your child healthy. Before you decide on a daycare, make sure it’s licensed and adhering to state-regulated health codes. Fox News also recommended investigating the daycare’s sick child policy. Choose a facility that requires parents to get their children when kids get fevers or show other signs of being contagious.