Quarantining a Toddler: Is it worth the effort?

What's a little personal space between sisters

What’s a little personal space between sisters?

We had RSV work its way through our ranks this month, and I admit that I did nothing to stop it. When Franci fell ill, I briefly considered keeping her away from Allison only to immediately abandon the idea. I mean, how would that even work? Would I wear a smock when caring for Frances and whip it off when I ran to comfort Allison? No doubt we had all already been exposed before Franci showed any symptoms.

Sure, we make Franci wash her hands regularly and she remembers to cough into the crook of her arm half the time. She is relatively good at blowing her nose and knows where her “hankies” are and asks for a tissue when ever her nose starts to run. She also sneaks a suck on Alli’s pacifier when I’m not looking, shares bowls of granola with her dad and regularly coughs in my face. If RSV is as contagious as they say, any effort I could have made to sanitize my hands and everything around us would have been cancelled out by one well-aimed sneeze (and there were several).

At least I’m able to find comfort in the fact that Allison is piggybacking my immunity through all the breast milk she guzzles down. It might not save her from a serious case of RSV, but maybe it will save her from the various other childhood illnesses Franci brings home from daycare. And when Alli starts attending herself, in another year and a half, maybe she won’t spend the first six months with a perpetual cold.

How do you prevent colds from infecting your whole family? I would love to hear some tips to try out next time, because I don’t even know where to start!


  1. I don’t even attempt to prevent illnesses from spreading. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

  2. I try not to let the children share their food or drink when they’re sick. I can’t remember all of us getting sick at the same time.

    When we’re out and about, we wash our hands before getting back into our car, and use wipes on our hands when we’ve been somewhere a sink isn’t easily available, especially places where we’ve used railings, elevator buttons, cart handles, etc. At home we eat green or chopped vegetable salads often, the key being the raw garlic in the homemade dressing, and also in things like salsa and raita. Those were my main two plans for staying well this winter, cleaning hands and raw garlic. We’ve had no bad colds or worse this past fall and winter, nothing more than a couple days of damp noses, not too bad for having three kids 4 and under. And the kids love those foods I mentioned, so it’s a winner all around.

    We go out and spend time with other children 2-3 times a week, so we’re not hibernating to prevent sickness. I also keep a keen eye out for sick kids where we are when we go out, and I plan to leave early if it seems concerning, though at the places we most often go, people seem to be pretty good about staying home if their kids are sick. I haven’t had to do that.

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