Most parents blame themselves for giving their children colds, new study claims

GP says strict hand hygiene is crucial to prevent catching cold

Grant Bailey
Monday 12 November 2018 16:41 GMT
Colds prevent parents from cuddling with their children (DAVID BOILY
Colds prevent parents from cuddling with their children (DAVID BOILY (AFP/Getty Images))

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Seven out of ten parents believe they have been responsible for passing a cold onto their children, it has emerged.

A study carried out among 2,000 mums and dads with kids aged three to 16 found a large percentage believe they've given colds to their kids – with dads being the worst offenders.

As well as missed days at work, school and nursery, it also emerged winter bugs are to blame for parents enjoying less time cuddling their children.

The research, commissioned by Olbas, revealed that to try and avoid catching colds and viruses, nearly half of parents make a deliberate effort not to engage in physical contact with their kids.

Furthermore the study found one fifth of children rarely or never cover their mouth when sneezing, blasting out germs with each explosion.

And when they do, 43 per cent of children sneeze directly into the palms of their hands, making the spread of the cold likely via shared toys, books and other items.

GP and Olbas expert Dr Roger Henderson, said: “Children can catch colds from siblings, parents, other family members, and playmates – and there are definite trends depending on the child’s age and lifestyle.

“In general, children with older siblings and those who attend nursery seem to have more colds than older children.

“Children get fewer colds as they get older and usually by the time they start school, children who attended pre-school day-care will have fewer colds than children who did not because of their exposure to the cold virus.”

When looking at the origin of illness, one quarter of parents surveyed revealed they are currently working with someone they suspect has been infected – leading to giving them a wide berth in the office.

And 21 percent believe they have also caught a cold from their work commute.

Although mums and dads are often responsible for transmitting the cold, kids can also be super-spreaders.

In fact, one in three parents try and keep their children from having playdates with a particular friend as they always seem to be suffering from a cold.

Once the winter lurgy has infiltrated the family home, it takes British families on average two whole weeks before every member has caught and recovered from the symptoms.

In fact, three-quarters of families, surveyed by, reported there have been times when everyone in the house has been suffering from the same bug.

In terms of frequency, children are likely to suffer from more colds than their parents.

The research revealed the average adult comes down with three colds a year, while younger children will suffer with an average of four in a 12-month period.

Dr Henderson added: “If you want to avoid contracting – or spreading – a cold, strict hand hygiene is crucial.

''Sneeze into a disposable tissue and throw it away, wash your hands regularly or use sanitising gel, avoid intimate contact, and when you do wash your hands, do it thoroughly.

“Use soap and water and scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds. When you're not near a sink, a hand sanitiser that’s at least 60 per cent alcohol is a good substitute.

"When the dreaded family cold does strike, using a gentle yet effective Olbas decongestant can help soothe stuffy noses and offer relief to families across the UK.”


• Give out gold stars! To encourage your children wash their hands with soap and water regularly, a star chart and incentivising rewards can really help.

• Sharing isn’t caring. Think about using paper towels rather than using shared hand towels which can be a hotbed for bacteria and viruses. Make sure every member of the family has their own bath or shower towel and don’t allow the sharing of utensils or cups either.

• Show a little empathy. Allow a sick family member off doing the washing up or cooking to prevent them passing on their cold.

• Ban the hanky! Use disposable tissues rather than handkerchiefs. Make sure these are disposed of as soon as they are used, including during the night. Put a small waste basket next to a sick child so they can put used tissues into it and empty it regularly.

• Disinfect those toys. Clean toys with disinfecting wipes or temporarily limit specific toys to your unwell child to avoid the spread from sibling to sibling.

• Elbow not hand. Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Colds are spread by droplets so encourage your children to do this to help prevent the spread of germs.

• Open those windows! Remember to keep the house well ventilated. The more fresh air the better.

• Stay hydrated! Make sure everyone in the house drinks lots of fluids, even if they are not suffering with a cold, to keep their immune system fighting fit.

For more information visit


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in