Why does my kid keep getting sick?

In the first few years of having kids, it can seem like the snotty, runny noses are never ending. In a way, that’s true. Young children are building their immune systems, and in doing so, they are dealing with all the colds and viruses going around. They get sick a lot.

Whether it’s in the younger years because they are at daycare, or the older years when they hit kindergarten, almost every parent I know says there is just a long season—about a year and a half—where their kids get cold after cold and seem to be a giant germ factory.

Toddlers are a giant germ factory

On this episode, I dive into my best strategies for keeping colds at bay, and the tools we use to manage the bugs when they do inevitably hit our household.

My favorite tip? If you have older kids, have them change their clothes (or at least just their shirt) and wash their hands thoroughly when they get home from daycare. That toddler shirt is filled with grime, snot, and boogers and other kids’ sneezes. We adopted this trick when we had our second child, and it helped cut the spread of toddler germs down a ton.

Listen in for my time-tested ways to keep the germs away, why we’re “super boring” in the winter and sleep a ton, and what we do when the colds do catch hold (because they do)—our portable steam inhaler and neti-pot are two of our favorite winter friends.

Good luck, parents. It’s germ season, and winter can be rough. If you have extra sick days at your work with young kids, or you can slow down your work pace through winter, do it. No need to be a superhero with a tiny one at home. You already are a superhero as a working parent, and it’s okay to just do a “good enough” job right now.

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #138



  • If you are a new parent and you feel like there are a lot of colds and germs in your household, you’re not alone. Kids do get sick a lot. It’s like they catch every cold they can find.
  • Sleep is so important and so hard in those first few years—for health and for sanity. For me, I decided I wanted to be relatively boring for a while, especially with these little kids. Those first couple of years while they’re one, two, three—I didn’t want to try to pretend I could do it all and be everywhere. I do my work, I stop, I go to bed by 8pm or 9pm. That’s how I survive.
  • Unfortunately, we have an ethos of anti-mom bias and anti-parent bias in the work world, and people think leaving at 4pm or 5pm is having a poor work ethic. I’ve heard people say, “Oh! They have to like leave to take their kid AGAIN,” when kids have to be picked up at 6pm, or the kids are sick and need to stay home. I wish that we lived in a culture where it’s like, “Hey! You got sick kids. Go home. Stay there. Come back when you’re ready. We’ll take you at 70% or 80% capacity this year, because that’s how good you are and because we want you around next year when you’re 90%. And we want you the year after when you’re 100%.” Go take those sick days right now. It’s important.
  • Hustle culture is a part of the problem. When we teach everyone to hustle, and we hide kids from everyday life, we fail everyone in our society.
  • The current world of work and this addiction to hustle culture and to hyper-productivity means we have lost touch with what it means to be a human—a human who sleeps, eats, exercises, is part of a community, who needs rest and recovery. We start to penalize these human behaviors and basically threaten people with “You’re going to lose your job if you can’t keep up.” There’s so much risk associated with these very normal human things.
  • If you are creating a system where you are reliant on having five fully productive, non-impacted, never shifting days to get work done, then you are designing a system that’s going to be problematic. Creating more resilience in the system—by designing for 3 productivity days, for example, and focusing only on what matters right now—can make all the difference.
  • This isn’t forever. This is a season. The seasons change.
  • For me, when my kids are under three years old, I do not accept many dinner invitations. Their cost to my health and well-being is too high, because I get home late, I don’t get enough sleep, and I end up catching a cold. It’s not worth it, at least not for me!


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