When to Keep a Sick Child Home from Daycare

boy and teddybear in bed, with teddy bandaged

It seems like illness is running rampant this winter! As soon as we get rid of a cold over here, another one comes along a week later. It’s been an uphill battle trying to stay healthy, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because people are still taking their kids out when they are sick and spreading things around. I understand parents need to work, it’s hard to find back up babysitters at the last minute, and you can’t keep your child home for every teeny tiny little cold, but where do we draw the line? When is it okay to send your child to school or daycare, and when should we really keep them home?

Your childcare provider probably has her own list, but here are are a few universal signs that indicate when to keep your sick child home from daycare:


  • A fever of 100 degrees or higher should stay home for 24 hours after the fever has subsided.
  • Any vomiting or diarrhea merits staying home as these can be super contagious.
  • Eye drainage, especially the goopy kind definitely merits a doctor’s visit and could be conjunctivitis, or pink eye, which is very contagious. Kids should remain home until treatment is started.
  • Sore throats, especially those associated with fever and throat spots, are a big sign for a child to stay home, and they should remain home until fever and spots are gone.
  • Although lice don’t carry disease, they are a pretty disgusting parasite and easily transferred from child to child at a daycare setting. A lice shampoo should be used and child should be symptom free for 24 hours before returning.
  • A lingering dry, hacking cough is not reason enough to stay at home. However, if the cough is wet or accompanied by mucus, yellow or greenish nose drainage, fever or chills, they should see a doctor and remain home from school or daycare.
  • This should go without saying, but any other contagious illnesses such as impetigo, measles, rubella, chicken pox, meningitis, whooping cough, or any other communicable disease are certainly ground for staying home.

That being said, it’s not always easy to take off work and stay home with a sick child who is home from school or daycare.

What do you do when your child is too sick and needs to stay home?