• Mon, Apr 14 - 12:00 pm ET

You Can’t Be Smug About Your Super Healthy Kid If You Never Leave The House

sick-meme-oprah

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We’ve all heard of this magical, fabled creature before…the kid who never gets sick (said in a whisper). Just to let the cat out of the bag, my first son was the literal opposite of this kid. My first son was Sickly McSick Magee and still kind of is to this day. He’s getting better as his immune system grows stronger, but he still has allergies and pretty severe eczema. Whoopee.

The shit hit the fan when we put him in Mother’s Day Out at 12 months old. Before that time, my husband and I had been working at home together and watching him between the two of us. We decided that one year was the perfect time to start daycare, and we never even fathomed that it would destroy him completely.

He’d never left the house before in a social setting, so he was clearly the BEST. Sure, he went to family gatherings and saw our friends, but since he had never been in contact with 10 germy hooligans before, he had never been sick.

The progression of events went like this: Daycare, cold, fever, pneumonia, semi-healthy, pneumonia, visit to an allergist, allergies, cold, fever, more pneumonia, present day.

The first two months of daycare were a major fist in the ass. I had read hundreds of parenting articles while I was pregnant to prepare myself for basic baby care. No one on God’s green earth ever told me that one of the worst things you will experience as a parent is a sick kid who causes you to worry endlessly while also torturing you day and night.

I wasn’t outwardly smug, but I was a little proud that our son hadn’t been sick until he hit one year. Courtesy of Internet forums, other parents also brag about this same healthy phenomenon while presumably keeping their kids in the bubble:

Mine were both that way too..oldest didn’t have more than a sniffle until 4 or 5. I think it might have been because she was breastfed through toddlerhood; she was likely getting my antibodies to whatever germs she was exposed to before she had a chance to get sick.

I have a two year old who has had nothing more than sniffles.  We try to use hand sanitizer wipes at the stores, but we aren’t extremely anal retentive about germs.  Perhaps this has helped his immune system?  I only nursed for 6 months, so he did get some antibodies but not as much as other mothers that nurse longer.  I attribute his health to his diet; we feed him very healthy and work very hard to get him to eat nutritional food.

My almost 3.5 year old has never had anything except a low-grade fever once after a vaccination – no runny nose, cough, stomach bug, etc. (knock on wood — I know she’ll get one sometime!). She did breastfeed until almost 3, and I’m at home with her although we do lots of playdates and classes. She goes to childcare at the gym several times per week and I thought when we started doing that she’d for sure come down with something, but not yet. I think it’s just a combination of luck, environment, good food and rest.

I can’t speak to these parents’ exact situations, but I can speak to my own feelings of smugness when my son was rarely sick in his first year of life because he never left the house. HAHAHA joke was on me. Daycare whipped him into shape with three straight months of illness, and son #2 is getting the same treatment as we speak. Pray for me.

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Robotic Socks

    Ewww, that Cloverfield girl explosion. Yuck!

  • radicalhw

    Every parent I know was surprised by the germ-infested hellhole that is public kindergarten, including me.

    • Andrea

      But I think it doesn’t matter. If they go to daycare at 6 months, that’s when they will get sick. If you wait till they are 2 to put them in preschool, that is when they will get sick. And if you wait till they are 5 and send them to kinder, that’s when it will hit.
      It’s only delaying the inevitable. Unless you homeschool till college, it will happen the 1st year they are exposed to other children.

    • LiteBrite

      Very true. My SIL was complaining about how sick her young daughter was after being in daycare, and my sister put it nicely, “You either put them in daycare and deal with the sickness early or you deal with it when they get to school. Either way, you have deal with it sooner or later.”

    • Guest

      AND they will still get sick in college….hopefully you have prepared them well enough to take care of themself. I was SO sick my first 2 years of college 400 miles away (flu, bronchitis, allergies, you name it).

  • MerlePerle

    My first also was sick constantly for a few months after starting daycare, but other than that they’ve both been pretty healthy. I think it’s cause I’m such a slob that their immune systems are the bomb! I should be totally smug about my filthy bathroom!

  • Kendra

    I didn’t even read through this yet, but THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE!! I get so much crap because my daughter has been sick fairly frequently because she is in daycare. I can’t tell you how many moms say “oh, well my child hasn’t had a single cold in his first year!” That’s because you don’t leave the house fool!!!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Mine is the worst!!! ;)

    • Robotic Socks

      I pity the fool, who don’t go to preschool!

    • rrlo

      Also, it’s just a cold. If she had the bubonic plague as a result of going to daycare, I can understand some smugness… “oh, well my child hasn’t had a single case of the plague this year.”

    • Kendra

      My child HASN’T had a case of the plague. Feeling pretty smug about that right now!!

    • rrlo

      And so you should, Kendra, so you should.

    • val97

      On the plus side, at least in my experience, by the time they start Kindergarten, they’ve been exposed to everything and will not be sick all the time anymore. Then you can be the smug one :)

    • HoolieB

      I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but as a kindergarten reading tutor I can respectfully disagree. Those little sweeties are ALWAYS sick. I’ve had numerous parents comment that their kid has never been sick as much as they are now that they’re in kindergarten.

    • rrlo

      Yes, but it makes sense that a five year who has had exposure to germs over the last four years (i.e. daycare/preschool/siblings) wil have a better developed immune system than kids who hasn’t.

      At a minimum, a kid who encountered about 50-100 different cold viruses will have built up immunity to those viruses.

    • HoolieB

      I agree, but it’s not just colds, though. We’ve had multiple rounds of strep, pink eye, stomach viruses, and the latest, pertussis.

    • Valerie

      Yeah, and like I said above, my daughter was sick CONSTANTLY at 3 and 4 years old but now when she’s in “real” school and that shit actually matters she’s never sick. I know some parents can’t help it but I am very grateful she had her “sick years” when she was little rather than missing out on learning how to read and whatnot. It was awful when it was happening (the sick years, I mean) but now, I am glad looking back.

  • val97

    Yeah, I have nothing to be smug about. Both my kids went to daycare and were sick all the time. I’d just like to add that missing work to take care of sick kids is a good way to get most of your child-free coworkers to hate you. It’s almost better to lie and pretend that you are the sick one or that your car broke down or your house exploded into flames – anything but a toddler with an ear infection.

    • Kendra

      Ugh, yes. That is so frustrating. I always feel badly when I have to take a day off because I know everyone is bitching behind my back.

    • Andrea

      Anything BUT that and you are still expected to come in though.

      I worked corporate before the days where there was any infrastructure needed to work from home, so missing a day meant missing work that someone else will have to do. I think things are different now and maybe moms don’t get so much crap because they can still work even if they are home. Or at least for a lot (not all) jobs and at companies that aren’t filled with assholes.

    • WriterLady

      I am now a freelancer, but when my I did work in an office setting, we had a policy of unlimited sick days. However, anytime one of our children got sick, we were supposed to take a vacation day. What kind of messed up shit is that? I HAVE to stay home with my sick child, but I could come into work sick (since I’m an adult, of course). We only got 10 days of vacation per year, so if a kid (on average) had just two major illnesses per year, there goes all of the vacation time. I’m not one bit ashamed to admit that I lied when he was sick at least half of the time. Because dammit, I need at least one week off a year to unwind.

  • rrlo

    Oh whatever, especially the breastfeeding comment. Ever since starting daycare my son must have had on average 2 colds a month and I breastfed that sucker for over 2 years! If it only it worked like that….

    Also, what a DUMB thing to be smug about. It’s just about the dumbest thing I can think of actually. There are over 200 types of cold viruses – sooner or later – when exposed to said virus – one WILL get sick. These people are royal idiots!

    • Kendra

      Seriously. I breastfed my daughter for about a year, not exclusively, but it was a big part of her diet. My husband said to me one day “I guess that doesn’t really work” because she had been sick so much. I just had to laugh. These people that think it is a magical cure all and germ preventative are super clueless.

    • rrlo

      I know! If it actually worked, I would have bottled it up and drank it myself… no joke! Because obviously while kiddo was sick – so was I (for much longer and with much more severe symptoms like bronchitis and sinus infections).

  • SA

    Yeah, my kid catches any cold within a 20 mile radius. She received breastmilk (and formula) for six months and eats a very healthy diet and I do keep a somewhat clean house. It is just about exposure! Hoping we sail through kindergarten while all theses other kids are coming down with colds!

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    This is a weird thing to be smug about.

    • brebay

      Furrreals. I’ll feel dumb-lucky, but smug is reserved for something more awesome than this.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Is it even lucky though? I’d be kind of weirded out if my kid *never* got sick. I figure every minor illness is helping to make her overall immune system stronger and also teaching her to stop licking the pole on the streetcar (eventually that lesson has to sink in, right?).

    • brebay

      Baha, true! I have one who seems to catch everything twice, and another who sometimes I think is getting a cold, but he’s always fine by morning…weird. I’d just as soon they both got sick at once, then I don’t have to entertain the healthy one!

  • Katherine Handcock

    My kids are sick amazingly rarely, and I am NOT smug, because I know it’s 100% dumb luck (well, maybe there’s a small “good genes” percentage in there too, since I rarely get sick either…on the other hand, my husband catches EVERYTHING, so that’s probably a wash.) Neither is in daycare, but my son goes to preschool, and since my husband is a minister it’s his job to go visit people who, say, have such a severe flu that they need to be in intensive care. I’m pretty sure we get exposed to just about everything out there. Some kids just don’t get sick as often as others, and there’s no good parent points for having one of those kids.

    I also consider it a miracle that we haven’t been to the ER with an injury for one of our kids, since they’re both super energetic and totally fearless. One of these days, for example, my daughter is going to leap off a mat at gymnastics and discover there isn’t another mat next to it. And just the other day my son smashed himself on the bathroom floor, hard, and still somehow managed to not QUITE muck himself up enough for a hospital visit. We’re due. It’s going to happen any day.

  • TngldBlue

    These moms are going to eat their words SO DAMN HARD when their kids start school. Bwahahahahahahah.

  • Véronique Houde

    I mean… the whole thing about the “antibodies” in the breastmilk…. I’m not a doctor, and I have no idea what I’m talking about – this is just critical thinking here… But if as a mother you haven’t caught the cold or flu strain and gotten over it, then your child isn’t benefitting from any good antibodies for that cold or flu strain that he might catch at daycare/any other place. No? And trust me, there are so many strains of the cold and flu – I think that my daughter must have caught all of them. My sister breastfed up til last week (almost 18 months), and my niece (who is in daycare) must have passed on every single strain that exists to mankind this year to my daughter (who is not in daycare) and the other way around.

    I don’t get why there would be anything to brag about having kids who haven’t got sick yet… Are these parents implying that they are “better” at parenting than parents whose kids are germ magnets?

    • K.

      To answer the second question, yes. That’s why it’s f***ing annoying.

  • Elissa

    My kids hardly ever get sick, and almost never get anything worse than a cold – my almost 3 year old has never had anything other than a few colds, in fact (I know, I know, please don’t hate me). It’s not something I mention very much to other parents though, and I’m certainly not smug about it. I’m sure I could pat myself on the back and point to…y’know, whatever it is that I do that I could point to as evidence of my superior parenting, but the truth is just genetics, I think. I hardly ever get sick. They take after me. The end. And yes, I absolutely know how lucky this makes us!

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I am not smug about the fact that my daughter has only been sick twice in 2.5 years. My husband works at a hospital, so I’m sure he brings home all kinds of gross crap to inoculate us. I also did daycare in my house for almost a year, with one of the kids constantly being sick. So my daughter really never gets sick, except when she has it is fucking horrible. So I’m not smug, I’m terrified of the gross germy bug that is strong enough to bring her down.

    • LiteBrite

      Me too. My son was sick constantly the first two years he was in daycare. Now, he’s got the immune system of a god. But when he gets sick, all bets are off, so nope, not gonna be smug about that at all.

    • Valerie

      Yeah, mine haven’t been sick in so long I am actually terrified of what it will be like the next time it happens. Back when they used to be sick all the time it would be a week-long affair complete with high fevers, barfing, crying, hacking up a lung, etc. My kids don’t do anything halfway, apparently. It’s Plague Sick or totally healthy.

  • MarkAHill

    I had read hundreds of parenting articles while I was pregnant to prepare myself for basic baby care. No one on God’s green earth ever told me that one of the worst things you will experience as a parent is a sick kid who causes you to worry endlessly while also torturing you day and night. http://qr.net/uqAg

    • brebay

      Get a grip. If a kid with a cold is TORTURE, you’ve led a pretty damn sheltered life.

  • kay

    Some people do have great immune systems. So far my kid doesn’t get sick. And while we don’t go to daycare every day she goes to gymboree, the library, swimming lessons, and playdates pretty much on the daily where she’s swapping spit with other kids. And she goes to the gym’s daycare. When we spent hours hanging out with a baby who had hand foot and mouth (whoops!) where he and her were crawling on top of each other and gnawing on the same toy she ran a 99 degree fever and took an extra nap. That’s as much as we’ve gotten. I never get sick either, some people have rad immune systems.

    (I did however, get migraines that made me puke allll through childhood and adolescence, lest I sound smug here. And I got the flu for the first time ever this year and was sure I was pregnant, then assumed I must be dying because I NEVER get sick.)

    • Bethany Ramos

      I never get sick, so I am always the sad caretaker of all of the sickly people. :(

    • Katherine Handcock

      Which, if your family is like mine, means that you’re also the sad caretaker of all the sickly people when you actually DO get sick, because it can’t possibly be as bad for you as it is for us, whimper, whine…

    • Bethany Ramos

      YES – sad caretakers can never win.

    • kay

      The one time I’ve gotten truly sick as an adult my husband was USELESS. Then when he felt mildly unwell a week later didn’t understand why I was unsympathetic.

    • Katherine Handcock

      My husband once said to me, “I must have a worse case than you did last week.” Then for some reason he backed away from me really slowly ;-)

    • Valerie

      ME TOO, #bestie! I always say when my husband and kids get a stomach flu I am the one left standing holding the puke bucket and towels. It kind of sucks- I would rather be the barfer than the barf cleaner.

    • Bethany Ramos

      #besties!! Hahah I love good immunity, but I need to fake being sick to get out of vomit cleanup…

    • K.

      I agree that there are people who are less susceptible to illness, but you’re not attributing that to something that amounts to some aspect of “superior parenting.”

      …that’d be dickish.

    • kay

      The immune system is luck.

      My baby’s ability to yell loudly in church? That we have my superior parenting to thank for.

  • AP

    My sister and I had a mom at home, and we weren’t sick much as little ones, but were slammed all through school with about 9-10 sick days a year, including high school. My cousins, on the other hand, went to daycare at 3 months. They were some of the sickliest babies and toddlers you’d ever seen- sick so often we worried about them. Now they’re teenagers, they’ve racked up perfect attendance awards left and right.

    • JLH1986

      this was partly why my parents opted for daycare. Yea my mom missed a bit of work after we entered day care but within 3-4 months everything was fine and my brother and I rarely missed school after kindergarten. My mom thought it was much better for us to be sick and miss Barney or whatever than to miss addition and subtraction or whatever.

  • WriterLady

    I have experienced a similar scenario. Until our son was 2 and a half, we used an in-home provider who only had three other kids in her care. Our son was only sick a handful of times during 30-some months. Shortly before his third birthday, we placed him in a regular daycare/preschool center. It’s housed in a church (despite the fact that we aren’t the religious type), but contains three separate rooms–with the kids grouped by their respective ages. Over the past year, our son has been sick–and I mean “really” sick (flu, bronchitis, etc.)–at least four times. The majority of this has occurred during the fall/winter months, meaning that he might go a month without being sick, and then come down with another illness for an entire week. He has missed at least 20 days of school as a result.

    Here’s the thing: We aren’t alone in this battle. Most of the kids in his class have experienced the exact same illnesses…they pass the bugs around like crazy. The owner even posts a sign if a child has come down with a contagious illness that could impact the other kids, as a sort of warning to parents to be prepared for the coming ‘plague.’ So, the people who think their kids never get sick because they were nurtured in a fantastic environment are not recognizing the power of external, environmental influences.

  • K.

    You are a goddamn twat if you think your tits can prevent disease.

    And I am very happy that my kid eats dirt and licks windows and is a snot-dispensing mess. Proud, in fact. It’s called building an immune system and it helps to ensure your kid won’t miss weeks of school when they’re HS sophomores and shit actually counts.

    • Obladi Oblada

      Your first statement made me laugh out loud with tears in my eyes in my office. So much so that my employees came to check on me.
      Well done.

  • Roberta

    This past year at the daycare, we have had a small outbreak of bronchitis. We couldn’t close the centre (it didn’t involve bodily fluids, one phlegm, ew), so we go into germ lockdown. Sand and water tables are closed, we use bleach on everything (the strongest concentration we can use too), and the kids wash their hands so often that I am afraid that is all they will remember of daycare.

    And you know what? They still got sick. Because kids at young ages in close quarters are adorable biological hazards. They good news is that the worst is over, and now we can get ready for allergy season. And now their immune systems are a tad better.

    • K.

      I love parents who claim that taking their kids to the park or to Mommy-and-Me class or whatever is just as germ-friendly as daycare.

      Unless you’ve seen it in action, you have no idea. Those kids have their hands all over each other ALL THE TIME. And there is at least–at LEAST–one kid who’s got snot coming out of their nose or is coughing or has a rash or whatever. And they touch each-other, share toys, eat each-other’s food and drink each-other’s milk…I mean, I could go on but it’s way way grosser than taking your kid to the park and seeing him eat sand or something. Daycare is special; it’s a cesspool.

    • Valerie

      Ugh, bronchitis. Our son had it all the time when he was around 1.5-3 years old. He lived on the nebulizer every winter, it was awful. That is very tough to stop from spreading!!

  • Sara610

    Oh my God, that was me too. My husband and I were home with our daughter until she was 11 months old and she never got sick in that time. Not once. I wouldn’t say I was smug about it, but I thought I was in the clear. Ha ha ha…… silly crazy lady, thinking you’re in the clear because your 11 month old who’s never been in day care doesn’t get sick! That’s like thinking that you’re never going to scratch your new car because you’ve never taken it out of the garage.

    Once she started day care, it was CONSTANT that first fall and winter. She’s gotten a lot healthier since she got tubes in her ears because she was getting constant ear infections, but she still brings home every cold and sniffle and stomach bug that goes around at daycare. Eh, it’s not fun, but I just keep reminding myself that her immune system is getting ready for kindergarten. :)

  • Valerie

    Let’s see..
    - My kid breastfed for 18 months was way more prone to illness than my kid who had formula from 4 months on.
    - My oldest was not sick a day in her life until she went to daycare. Then, it was 2 straight years of sick. Sick sicky sick sick sick.
    - My kids are both excellent eaters and we feed them healthy food 90% of the time. This made no difference in whether or not they were sick.
    - We were hyper vigilant about hand washing and keeping our house clean and sticking them in the tub the moment we got home from daycare every day and that made no difference in how often they got sick.

    Basically, when your kid is sucking on other kid’s snot all day there is not much any parent can do to prevent the onslaught of shitty sickness that will besiege you until they build up a stronger immune system. After 2 years of tearing my hair out and missing time from work every other week, I can #humblebrag that our 1st grader has not missed a single day of school yet this year and our 4-year old has not been sick at all. Yeahhh for the facility daycare petri dish breaking in their immune systems!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yay! That is what I am hoping for in the future – my older son has been sick for like 1.5 years but is a *little* better. He always gets sick on important days, like, I don’t know… CHRISTMAS.

    • Valerie

      OMG, parallel lives. The year Ben was 2, he was SO sick at Christmas. He barfed and was miserable on Christmas Eve but we went to my parents house since it was just them and us. He seemed better by morning but was tired and fussy- we went to my grandma’s house and he started looking green while we were opening gifts. My husband and I hot-footed it out of there because we knew he was fading fast and he barfed all over her porch on our way out! He was also sick for his 2nd and 3rd birthdays. Freaking daycare! :-)

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is Elliott too!! We got him this epic Power Wheels and were so proud, and he didn’t care because he was sick, so we made him ride it for 2 minutes while he cried. Hahaha.

    • Valerie

      That is what a loving parent does.
      Ben wasn’t sick for his 1st birthday but we held the party at a pavilion at a local park. It had a cement floor and he fell twice within the first hour of the party and got twin bumps on his forehead. They looked like devil horns and he was les mis the rest of the day. Of course we took 12 trillion pictures of him looking like a teary Satan spawn. Because again, that is what loving parents do.

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL – yes!

  • Maria Guido

    You’re scaring me. Lucien got sick on his FIRST day of daycare last week and of course passed it to his sister and they both passed it to me. Is this my life now?

    • http://lawleramericanadventure.wordpress.com/ Nicole

      Unfortunately, yes. I worked at a daycare for 4 years, you’ll have at the very minimum, a chronic snotty nose and a cough. Maybe a sore throat thrown in here and there to make you wonder if you’re all getting sick or if it’s just a side of day care germs.

    • Bethany Ramos

      It might be. :( But maybe Frankie will be better? Kid #2 seems to do slightly better. :)

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    My son started getting sick a lot around Christmas, coinciding with being around TONS of relatives, including kids, and then me taking him to Early Centres Centres more often, which are germ factories.
    It gave his immune system a bit of a workout before daycare started, and now that it has his nose hasn’t stopped running all month. He had a fever my sixth day back to work and I had to take the next day off. Awesome.

  • Harriet Meadow

    My son seems to get sick every time I take him to the drop-in daycare (which is about once every two weeks). I feel sorry for the kid, but I guess it’s good for his immune system? What sucks even worse is that *I* always get whatever nasty germy thing he gets, DESPITE my years and years of teaching and getting to the point (before I had him, anyway) where I got sick once a year, TOPS. So now I’ve been sick for like a month straight with a nasty cold and now a sinus infection…ugh…

  • firsttimemom

    I will totally admit to quarantining my son when outbreaks occur. I will skip play group, mom and me, and keep him out of school. I’m not smug about it, I just hate dealing with a sick toddler. What drives me crazy is friends who knowing bring a really sick kid to my house. I was doing my friend a favor and watching her daughter while she had a dr.’s appointment. I quickly found out she brought over a baby with explosive diapers…fun times, especially since I started throwing out that night, along with my son, and my husband was gone for a few weeks with work. SERIOUSLY, was your eye doctor appointment that important! A little cold is one thing, but the stomach flu, stay home!!!

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