Q&A: Does exposing kids to people with colds help build their immunity?
My daughter is 13 months old and I've recently joined a mothers' group. I'm concerned about my child getting a cold from another child. Is it better for a small child to avoid contact with germs that can cause colds (when possible), or expose the child to build immunity?
The age-old question of how far to go to protect a child from germs doesn’t have one right answer. Repeated minor infections do build immunity to similar types of germs, but who wants young children to be constantly sick? Parents run the gamut on this one from not worrying at all to bringing Lysol to the supermarket and wiping down the shopping cart before their child is wheeled around.
I think the practical solution is to recognize that many, many exposures are unavoidable. Toddlers are by nature into everything around them, dirt and germs included, and many viruses can be spread before the contagious person even comes down with any symptoms. So, I see those inevitable exposures as the immunity-building ones. Your best bet is to wash your child’s hands frequently, and avoid obviously sick individuals whenever possible.