When To Keep Your Children Home From School And Nursery

Welcome to Childhealthy’s latest update. With the flu season well underway and playgroups, nurseries and schools back after breaks, this month we focus on tips to keep your children healthy especially during winter.

Parents often tell us that it seems their child is always sick at this time of year and are worried about the type and number of infections they seem to get. At this time of year, there are more illnesses circulating and transmission rates are higher. Illnesses spread more quickly when everyone is interacting in close proximity, and it can be difficult to know when to keep your child home from school, toddlers away from nurseries and playgroups and younger infants indoors. So in this newsletter, we run through lots of tips and information to prepare you ahead of winter for some of the illnesses to expect, what to do and when to keep your children home from school.

Before we dive into these tips, one request to all our readers. If you have ever had any value from our Childhealthy newsletters, we would really appreciate it if you shared this newsletter with anyone you think would benefit from it and send them this sign up link

Our aim is to provide families with useful, practical health advice for their children that will give them peace of mind. Please also follow and like us on Facebook and Instagram. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and we use it to improve these updates. Are there any topics or questions you would like this newsletter to cover? Please email info@childhealthy.co.uk and we will aim to include this in the next update.

Common winter illnesses

There are many common winter illnesses that can affect children, especially respiratory viral infections. If your children are suffering from any of the following, then we recommend you keep them at home to prevent passing on the illness or exacerbating the symptoms:

Some of the most common symptoms that you should be looking out for are:

Tips for looking after a sick child

When looking after a sick child, we recommend:

  • Keeping their room well-ventilated
  • Making sure that they stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids is important and be patient with food during the first couple of days
  • Encouraging them to sleep. Don’t wake them if they doze off, and provide a quiet, peaceful environment, but always check on them when sleeping for longer periods 
  • Keeping them company. Make sure that you are present to comfort them. If you are caring for a sick infant, it is not recommended to fall asleep on the sofa with them however tired you feel
  • Take a break for yourself when you can, wash your hands regularly as the illnesses are very contagious

If your child is old enough, they will often be able to tell you what they need and how they are feeling. For example, if they say that they are well enough to sit on the sofa instead of lying in bed, then they probably are. Younger toddlers play when they feel well, so this is an encouraging sign of recovery, and younger infants feed well, have regular wet nappies and are more alert when getting better. 

When to see a doctor

If you are concerned about your child during an illness it is always fine to ask for advice and help. Your local pharmacy can help with over-the-counter medication or advise if you need to see your GP. However, if your child has persisting symptoms, or more severe signs of illnesses such as a high fever, worsening cough, new rashes, passing less urine, then you should either contact your GP for a more urgent check or attend hospital.

If you have an infant or toddler, these are warning signs to watch out for and call for emergency help ( 999 in the UK) or attend the nearest hospital emergency department:

  • A high temperature with cold hands and feet
  • If they feel hot or cold, are shivering, or are listless and abnormally quiet
  • If they struggle to wake up or seem confused or disoriented
  • If your baby is less than eight weeks old and has a temperature
  • Struggling to breathe, rapid breathing, panting or making a throaty noise when they are breathing
  • If their vomit is green
  • If they do not want to feed and are less than eight weeks old
  • If their cry is different to their usual one and they do not stop crying no matter what you do
  • Grey, blue, pale, or blotchy skin

When can my child return to school?

The answer to this question depends on the type of illness that your child has. Each nursery and school will have their own policies and procedures, so always check before returning.


Once your child has tested negative and has recovered from their symptoms, they can return. However, do not rush them if they do not feel up to it, as the effects can linger.


Viruses that cause gastroenteritis ( tummy bugs ) are very contagious. It is recommended that children with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from school for 2 days after their symptoms have resolved.


If your child can eat and drink without vomiting, then they are ready to go back to school.

Flu and cold symptoms

Generally, they are ready to return when they no longer have a fever. However, use your judgement as there are many flu symptoms that are not fever related and can affect eating and drinking. Lethargy is common and some children need a few extra days to recover.

Please visit the NHS site for a detailed list of illnesses and how long to stay home from school.

How to keep your child healthy at school

The best way to keep your child healthy in school is to make sure they have had all of their vaccinations, including a yearly flu vaccine. This is to help reduce the risk and stop the spread of influenza.

Aside from ensuring your child is up to date with all their vaccinations, we also recommend teaching them about hygiene. Washing their hands plays a huge part in keeping them healthy, so make sure they are doing so before meals, after they have been to the loo and after they have blown their nose or coughed. Emphasise the importance of washing their hands frequently. Teach them to cover their mouths or cough into their elbows when they sneeze or cough. Sharing eating utensils and cups should also be discouraged.

If you want to learn more about how you can keep your child healthy or when they may be well enough to return to school, or if you want to talk to one of our team about any child-related health issues, get in touch with the team at Childhealthy. In addition to offering regular health checks and vaccinations, we share general advice on our website from expert paediatricians.

New Childhealthy pages

If you are looking for advice on polio and the polio vaccine, please visit this page for more information:

Polio Vaccination London: Over the summer, a strain of the polio virus was detected in the sewage in multiple boroughs throughout London. Since then there has been a recommendation to ensure all children receive an additional polio vaccine booster and to ensure all usual vaccines are up to date. Read our article on everything you need to know about polio and the importance of getting vaccinated.

Childhealthy updates

This month we welcome two new colleagues to our team at Childhealthy. We are very excited to welcome Dr Kayal Vijaykumar, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist and Dr Walton D’Costa, Consultant Neonatologist and Paediatrician. Both colleagues bring a wealth of expertise in their paediatric specialities and join our existing team of doctors and therapists. 

Our team has now grown across a wide range of specialists, for more information, please see below:

  • Dr Yiannis Ioannou – General Paediatrician 
  • Dr Charles Stewart – General and Emergency Paediatrician
  • Dr Kerry Robinson – General Paediatrician
  • Dr Walton D’Costa – Neonatologist and General Paediatrician
  • Dr Kayal Vijaykumar – Paediatric Neurologist
  • Ms Bianca Parau – Paediatric Dietitian
  • Ms Amelia Powell –  Paediatric Physiotherapist

If you would like to book to see any of the team, please contact us here or book online.

Blood and other diagnostic tests for children – At Childhealthy, we can arrange for children of all ages to have blood tests and microbiology samples, such as urine, stool, throat, and nose swabs. If you have already seen your GP or paediatrician and know which tests are required, these tests can be arranged without an appointment to see one of our doctors. Some child and baby test profiles are listed here. Do contact us for more information. 

For more information on what tests are available, take a look at our test profiles here.

How to reach us

Follow us on our social channels for regular updates from the Childhealthy team, and as always please do let us know about any topics you want to see covered via email – info@childhealthy.co.uk

We hope you enjoy the rest of your month!

Wishing you all the best, Dr Yiannis and the Childhealthy team.