Is it better for kids to build immunities at an early age?

Is it better for kids to build immunities at an early age?
A sick Layla

Before Layla started daycare I could count the number of times she was sick on one hand – zero.  But in the last six months Layla has earned herself a black belt in contracting cooties.

To date she’s had:

  • Several colds of varying degrees
  • Two ear infections
  • Two eye infections
  • Hand Foot & Mouth Disease
  • Roseola aka Baby Measles
  • Three bites (although bites are not technically an illness, I’m counting them because they could have escalated into an illness)

As if the stress of always having a sick child isn’t hard enough, I’m starting to worry that Layla will become a pariah on the playground. And the only comfort I feel I’m supposed to get from all of this is hearing other people say “well at least she’s building up her immunity early.”

According to a 2010 CTV news article, children who attend large daycare facilities before the age of two and a half and catch a number of colds and infections will catch fewer illnesses once they hit elementary school.

The study says parents should take comfort in the fact that all of these infections are temporary and are likely to “provide children with great immunity during elementary school years.”

But it seems like as a parent you would want them to get sick when they’re older and a bit stronger, no?

Author Sylvana M. Côté, Ph.D., of Ste-Justine Hospital and the University of Montreal, Quebec argues in an 2010 CNN article that “earlier is better to have infections because then kids do not miss school at a crucial time — when learning to read and write.”

That’s a great point.

All I can say for us is that it’s been extremely hard watching Layla get over multiple illnesses, and being the logical person that I am, I feel like it would be just as hard to watch when she is older.

Being a first-time parent and new to the daycare scene, I wish I had known in advance about the plethora of illnesses that was literally going to be rained down on us.  If you’re not familiar with the petri dish know as daycare, here are some resources that might help you. You may be surprised at what’s floating around out there.

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