Fact Sheets : Infection Prevention In Children

Childhood infections such as the flu and the common cold are caused by germs called viruses which spread very easily, especially in preschool and school-age children. Germs can spread from person to person by:

  • Direct "hand-to-hand" contact or touch.
  • Indirect contact; for example if children touch an infected surface like a toy or a door handle and then put their hand to their own eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Virus droplets being passed through the air for example, from coughing or sneezing.


As there usually is no specific treatment for these infections, the best bet is preventing them in the first place by practicing and teaching good "infection control/prevention" habits in order to prevent the spread of infection.

The following will help prevent germs from spreading to others:

  • Children should be taught at an early age to wash their hands after any contact with their mouth or nose, especially before and after meals or snacks.
  • Children should be taught to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Facial tissues should be used for runny noses and to catch sneezes. These should be immediately put into the garbage after each use.
  • Avoid kissing your child on or around the mouth or face.
  • Anyone who comes in close contact with someone with the flu should wash their hands before and after contact.
  • Dishes and utensils should be washed in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher.
  • Children should not share pacifiers, cups, utensils, washcloths, towels or toothbrushes.
  • Disposable paper cups should be used in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Disinfecting is important as certain germs can live for more than 30 minutes on doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops, even on toys. Use a disinfectant or soap and hot water to keep these areas clean.
  • Children should learn at an early age to get used to the good habit of always washing their hands after going to the bathroom.
  • Parents and other caregivers should always wash their hands after changing a baby's diaper.