Among the rules is a warning against allowing children to blow out candles on birthday cake to prevent the spread of germs.
For most young kids blowing out candles on a cake is the highlight of their birthday celebration, but the latest National Health and Medical Research Guidelines are urging the age-old tradition to be banned for the sack of hygiene at childcare.
Instead if kids want to blow out a candle on their special day, they are being asked to bring in a cupcake.More stories from Today Tonight
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Public health expert Professor Kerryn Phelps says the rules aren't about wrapping kids in cotton wool but about protecting them from each other.
"I think these guidelines are a perfectly sensible solution to the problem of children being constantly sick in daycare," Professor Phelps said.
"It's fair enough that children are going to get the occasional coughs and colds and maybe the odd tummy bug, but it's not OK for children who have immune problems, who have asthma, who have health conditions to be unnecessarily exposed to germs which could ultimately be life-threatening."
The guidelines also recommend:
- Exclusion periods for sick children to stay home - even if they have a doctor's certificate stating they're healthy enough to return to care.
- All toys, door handles, floors, bathrooms and cushion covers be washed daily.
- Kids with head lice be treated before they return.
- Daycare staff wash each child's hands before and after playing in the sandpit.
Alice Voigt owns and runs a Sydney childcare centre and says their priority is the safety of all children in their care, but that some of the rules are just unrealistic.
"It would be impossible to do. We're here to educate and care for the children, not to be cleaners, and if we were cleaners we'd get paid a hell of a lot more than we do now," Voigt said.
"I think the nanny state needs to be implemented very, very carefully. We do need to make sure children stay safe and healthy, but implementing guidelines that are not practical and not feasible won't work."
The Government stresses that the guidelines are there to help maintain a healthy, hygienic daycare space for all children, however they are just that - guidelines - and centres can choose to ignore them and put their own policies in place.
Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek makes it clear that "a degree of common sense has to be applied when you're interpreting any of these things. We're not going to have the cupcake police out."
While the debate about stringent guidelines rages, a Brisbane childcare operator has gone to the other extreme - taking the 'anything goes' approach.
Barry Elvish wants things to go back to the good old days, when kids played in the dirt and climbed trees.
"Our strongest advocates are parents who want a childhood for their children like they experienced," Elvish said.Contact details
- Staying Healthy in Child Care - Preventing infectious diseases in child care (Fourth Edition) - www.nhmrc.gov.au
- The Mama Club - www.themamaclub.com.au
This reporter is on Twitter at @PippaGardner7