Mother reading to toddler


Have these stages personalized and emailed to you: Sign up now

Childhood illness prevention tips

We offer tips to help prevent infections spreading and to keep your child feeling healthy and well. Read about childhood illness, immunisation and more here.

1. Find out about baby immunisations - all babies and children in the UK are offered a schedule of routine immunisations to prevent childhood illness from the age of two months old. A flu vaccine given annually by nasal spray is also now recommended for all children aged two and three years as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. Read more about immunisations.

2. Wash hands regularly - it's really important to make sure everyone in your family washes their hands regularly with soap and warm water to avoid spreading any infection if someone is ill.

3. Use tissues rather than hands to catch coughs and sneezes - to help catch, and then get rid of germs, use disposable tissues rather than hands or hankies to catch coughs and sneezes. Try to cover your baby’s nose and mouth when they cough and sneeze and encourage older children to use tissues and cover their own mouth when coughing or sneezing too. Try using your elbows too instead of hands to catch a cough or sneeze.

4. Keep toys, surfaces and towels clean - a cough or sneeze can contaminate surfaces for up to 24 hours so wipe down surfaces where food is prepared, door handles and toys, for instance. You can also limit germs spreading by avoiding sharing towels and cleaning them regularly if someone is ill. 

5. Avoid people who are ill - try and keep away from people showing signs of being sick. In particular, avoid large crowds with a newborn as their immune system isn’t fully developed.

6. Read about the benefits of breastfeeding - breastfeeding your baby can boost their immune system against common baby illnesses like tummy bugs and ear and chest infections.

7. Eat well - good nutrition and a balanced diet helps support a healthy immune system.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700

You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Find out about the More Than a Cold campaign which provides a winter illness checklist for parents and other preventative tips.

NHS Choices has useful information about looking after a sick child.