Seriously, Do Their Immune Systems Start to "Toughen Up"?

Updated on October 23, 2011
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
10 answers

My kindergartener has been in school for about 2 months now. In that time, he has brought home strep throat, some sort of 24-hour virus that gave him fever and vomiting, and now he has some sort of repiratory congestion. I know that he is picking all of this up from school. My pediatrician says that this is normal for first-year school kids to get sick a lot around this time of year. He was previously in a home-based daycare, so definitely a big change for sure. Do their immune systems strengthen as they stay in school? There really isn't anything that I can do for him, but it would be nice to know that it won't always be that way!

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answers from St. Joseph on

his immune system will "toughen up". it is normal that he is now so exposed to germs. when I was working in the hospital I hardly ever caught a cold etc because I was exposed to it so much I a sort of immunity. now that I am a SAHM, I catch everything because I am home the vast majority of time. Now that my oldest is home with me everyday he is more prone to catching stuff too. I have taken him to the library 2 times, and he got super sick each time. He'll eventually build up so immunity and wont catch every little thing.

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answers from San Francisco on

Our pediatrician told me when my oldest went into preschool for the first time, "Expect her to have a runny nose from now until First Grade." And he was right! Ha ha. Yes, eventually my daughter's immune system toughened up, and now (at 9 years old), she will come down with the sniffles, but it's nothing that keeps her from her normal activities. My youngest is in Second Grade now and she's finally to the point where every little thing doesn't take her down. It does take a few years for them to catch all the nasty bugs and then become immune to them. Hang in there.



answers from Sacramento on

I'm surprised that your little one has been sick so often after being in a home daycare. How long was he there?

For my two, being in daycare a few years before kinder, their immune system was strong by the time they started school. They got sick only a couple times and continue that (now in 1st and 2nd grade. They get the really nasty stuff for about half the time and a bad cold for them is a couple days of the sniffles. So it does get better.

In my experience of running a home daycare though, it usually takes about 2 years of exposure to a number of other kids. Make sure that you're little guy is getting plenty of rest, water and good food and washing hands often. You might also consider a multivitamin and some extra vitamin C through the cold and flu season. We've found those things to be the best prevention!

Good luck~



answers from San Antonio on

Yes, it will get son was in Kinder last year and he was sick every month from August through February...his attendance was awful. He even caught mono and was out weeks...three or four. (I got so many letters from the district telling me I would be prosecuted for his absences). They were all excused.

I had doctor's notes (in fact I knew all about my pediatrician's nurse's love life we saw him so much...and what concerts he was going to...and how the concerts were...etc). I felt like we lived in the pediatrician's office.

Besides strep throat, the three day mystery fever, and son kept getting this "runny nose/then it was bronchitis/then it was pneumonia, it kicked off severe asthma" thing that happened once a month as well...he seemed to never stop wheezing.

So, long story short we had him tested for allergies...he was highly allergic to dust over the top, huge reaction. They live in carpets/bedding/ and stuffed animals. Our house has NO carpet and he doesn't have many stuffed animals...I wash bedding weekly...HOWEVER his classroom had a huge ancient "reading rug" where the kids sat on a lot during the day. So he was reacting to the dust mites at school that started the runny nose that turned into the bronchitis kicked off the asthma and then we moved into the pediatrician's office for the following week.

Once he started on allergy medications...that he only takes while in school (he doesn't need them over the summer) he is fine. In fact he just got a perfect attendance award for the first nine weeks of school.

I almost just chalked all the sickness up to his first year in school...but was really glad my pediatrician suggested the allergy testing. So if your son has continued respiratory congestion that keeps occurring over and over...maybe it is an allergy to something in the son's was...



answers from Oklahoma City on

Yes, we have to be exposed to many many illnesses before our immune systems will grow. We have to have this stage of growth or as adults we can develop many diseases that these childhood illnesses prevent. Just be will get better.


answers from Washington DC on


Yes. Their immune systems do get stronger. It's tough I know, but pretty soon, he will be doing fine and be able to fight more infections.

Encourage him to wash his hands frequently and to keep his hands away from his face...putting fingers in his mouth, etc.

Promise - it won't be like this forever!!



answers from Cleveland on

My kids always have a hard start to the school year... we can go all summer without any issues and with in a few weeks of school starting we are battling something and it always runs the house. I am currently battling the 2nd round... which suck since I'm 36 weeks along & so hate coughing. As the year goes on they do bring home less... my kids never had ear infections prior to K, but now they have both had them... my 1st grader is just getting over his 1st.

Give it some time - he will start to build up a better immune system.


answers from New York on

Yes, it does get better. The first few months that my daughter was in preschool/daycare she was sick almost constantly (so it seemed). After the initial rounds of ailments (coughs, colds, strep, etc.), she became ill less and less frequently. Of course, kids will always get sick now & then, but it's nothing like those first months of school! Hang in there, it will get better!



answers from Dallas on

My daughter was the exact same way last year when shes started Kinder. She is in 1st grade and hasn't missed a day yet (knock on wood). I promise -- it does get better.


answers from Lakeland on

He will start building his immune system by being exposed to other kids. I totally agree with washing hands often. Have you tried a supplement? Emergen-C or airborne? I give my daughter a gummy supplement that is Immune C plus zinc and Echinacea, we only use it one week out of every month. These will not make the cold go away but the vitamins help give a boost to fighting them off.

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