Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Respiratory Viruses

Question: How young is too young for daycare? What are the effects of daycare on an infant? I am an emergency physician and my husband is in school. I am the primary (only) wage earner and will have to go back to work after childbirth after about 3 months. We can probably arrange for him to stay at home for 2 to 3 months after that, so I am considering in home daycare at the age of 5-6 months for about 25-30 hours a week. Is that too early for daycare or too much daycare at that age? Jennifer

Answer: This situation is one in which I can say..been there, done that! The question of "How young is too young?" for daycare is a very difficult question to answer.

I'm sure that you see your share of illness, especially ones due to viruses and the like. Anytime you have more than one child in a setting, there is bound to be spread of illness, especially upper respiratory.

The younger the child, the greater risk of getting whatever is going around. In a smaller setting, such as homecare, there obviously is a lower rate of illness.

Fortunately, most of what infants this young are at risk for are the viruses that cause colds, flu-like illness and gastroenteritis. What many people don't realize is that most of these illnesses are spread directly by the hands.

Overall, the less number of children in any one setting, the less chance of spread of the germs that cause illness. Hint Hint! Breast feeding will increase your baby's immune system and help to prevent or at least lessen the severity of symptoms, especially of respiratory and gastro. At 6 months, your baby's immune system should be fairly proficient as compared to the first three months of life.

A very important thing to remember is being comfortable with the caretaker of your child.

Too much daycare? This is sometimes not a matter of choice when considering your career and the many years that you will have with your baby as he or she grows. Please don't feel too guilty. Guilt is a normal human response that is fostered by well meaning family and friends. (It's also genetic!).

Parenting is a combination of wonderful and not so wonderful times. Obstacles will be dissolved once you become more comfortable in your role as a parent. Both you and your husband will become more relaxed as time goes on. Routine and consistency are important in all of child rearing. Please enjoy your family and career!

Dr. Betti

Also see:

  • Can my child catch RSV from his caregiver?
  • My 12 year old daughter experiences difficulty sleeping due to fear of the dark and being alone. Is this normal?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.