Sharing the germ-love

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My boys have been in group day care since they were 3 months old. In the last two years, we’ve seen more than our fair share of illnesses. The first few times they were sick, we did everything we could to avoid cross-contamination. This resulted in one kid getting sick just as the other one was getting better. Since both my husband and I work outside the home, this meant a lot of vacation days gone caring for sick kids, not to mention a lot less sleep!  We decided for non-serious illnesses we would encourage cross-contamination as much as possible by letting them share pacifiers, sippy cups, etc.  (Obviously with babies, we did not do this with illnesses such as high fevers or vomiting.)

This plan worked well for us, as the boys got sick around the same time. After the first year of day care, we noticed the boys had… gasp… actually built up an immune system and were successfully fighting off illnesses. One time Nate got sick with a vomiting virus that Alex never caught, despite incidental cross-contamination. At that point, we switched tactics and decided to avoid cross-contamination where possible. It’s easier to do this at age 2 as they no longer use pacifiers or chew on everything in sight.

But I often wonder what other families with multiples do… do you encourage sharing of illnesses or do you keep them separated? What has worked for your family?

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7 thoughts on “Sharing the germ-love”

  1. I’ve never thought of illnesses that way. My kids tend to get sick at the same time anyway.

    One thing that has always surprised me though, is that pinkeye really doesn’t seem to be as contagious as I thought. My kids are in each other’s faces all the time, but I’ve never had pinkeye spread. They seem to pick it up from school though. Maybe they’re immune to one another?

  2. We never bothered to yank the “wrong” sippie or pacifier from a sibling, but with things requiring anti-biotics or a vomit based illness, we’ve made feeble attempts to “separate” or disinfect with greater verve.

    Of course incubation periods for most illnesses being what they are, by the time Twin 1 displays symptoms of an illness, Twin 2 has already been significantly exposed.

    One thing we DID learn early on (courtesy of our twin mom pediatrician) is when one twin is prescribed an anti-biotic for strep (or a communicable medicine requiring illness) is to get a “safety script”…for when twin two starts (if he/she starts) displaying the symptoms. Many times, we never have had to use it…maybe adding some fuel to the “immune to each other” possibility…although planty of times….. 😉

  3. Huh. I never really thought about this!

    When one of my twins gets sick, I immediately assume that the other one is going to get it to and don’t make any effort to prevent “cross-contamination.” Most often, they both end up ill, but there have been times when one has escaped.

    With my two, I find that one is often sicker than the other. At our house, whoever is sick first is usually hit harder; the second to fall seems to get a milder version of the illness. Of course, this could all be in my head.

  4. I’ve never thought about this—my guys appear to “cross-contaminate” no matter what I do (hmm, your paci looks delicious—let me yank it out of your mouth and suck on it). They almost always both get sick—-except, interestingly enough, when Abigail got pinkeye.

  5. The night the twins were born, I had a split-second moment of thinking, “Okay, Baby 7 of 8 just nursed on the left side, so I need to make sure Baby 8 of 8 doesn’t nurse that side until I clean….wait a minute….” and then sanity returned and they have been swapping bottles, breasts (well, you know what I mean), toys and chewies ever since. I do think as they get a little older I will try to avoid some of the cross contamination–but in a household of 8 kids, there are limits to how much isolation and quarantine I can reasonable pull off. It is interesting that, while the twins have often caught the same bug about the same time, they each seem to manifest it in their own way, i.e., 8 of 8 goes more upper-respiratory while 7 of 8 goes for the ear infection….oh, that active petri dish we call family….

  6. i practically encourage the germ flow. i figure they are both going to get it and i only want to deal with it once. i am also the total opposite of a germaphobe (after working in health care, i know washing hands is sooo important, but all the other stuff just gets you a weak immune system) and they do not seem to get stuff very often. we will see how it goes if i ever do put them in daycare.

  7. We haven’t had this problem, but I’m now worried about it since they’ll be starting day care again soon. In that first year, when they were in day care, we couldn’t do much to prevent it from happening. Now, I do think their immune system is more mature and will fight off some things.

    My problem is how to keep mommy from getting it since I’m often sneezed upon, slobbered on, etc.

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