- Birthday candles at school to be banned
- Doorknobs to be washed daily
- Guidelines to prevent spread of germs
KIDS will be banned from blowing out candles on communal birthday cakes, under strict new hygiene rules for childcare.
But doctors warn the latest National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines go too far in "bubble-wrapping" children.
The NHMRC is urging childcare centres to stand up to parents who insist on sending a sick child to daycare - even if they have a medical certificate.
And daycare staff will now have to wash toys, doorknobs, floors and cushion covers every day.
The new guidelines state that kids who want to blow out a candle on their birthday should bring their very own cupcake - to avoid blowing germs all over a shared cake.
"Children love to blow out their candles while their friends are singing 'Happy birthday'," the document says.
"To prevent the spread of germs when the child blows out the candles, parents should either provide a separate cupcake, with a candle if they wish, for the birthday child and (either) enough cupcakes for all the other children ... (or) a large cake that can be cut and shared."
The NHMRC says children who play in the sandpit must wash their hands with alcohol sanitiser before and afterwards.
But the Australian Medical Association warned the clean-freak regulations place "kids in a bubble".
"If somebody sneezes on a cake, I probably don't want to eat it either - but if you're blowing out candles, how many organisms are transferred to a communal cake, for goodness' sake?" AMA president Steve Hambleton told News Ltd.
He also criticised the rule requiring children to wash their hands before and after playing in a sandpit.
"Just wash your hands before you eat," he said.
"It's normal and healthy to be exposed to a certain amount of environmental antigens that build up our immune systems.
"If you live in a plastic bubble you're going to get infections (later in life) that you can't handle."
Toughen up, kids - germs can be good for you
The NHMRC document sets out the "exclusion periods" for sick children to stay home, depending on the illness.
It states that centres "will not be influenced by letters from doctors stating that the child can return to care".
"Parents may find an exclusion ruling difficult, and some parents may put pressure on educators to vary the exclusion rules," it says.
"These parents are often under pressure themselves to fulfil work, study or other family commitments."
The NHMRC says the best way to "avoid stress and conflict between parents and educators" is to have a written policy setting out when children must stay home.
But Dr Hambelton said a child's GP was in the best position to clear a child for daycare.
"You don't want to put kids into childcare with infectious diseases but at times you find a child has a post-viral cough that is not infectious, and I'm very happy to certify they can go to school," he said.
Australian Childcare Alliance president Gwynn Bridge yesterday said she was certain that parents did not disinfect the door handles at home every day, as the new rules will require of centres.
"We want children to be healthy but world research is now saying a little bit of dirt is healthy," she said.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, who launched the guidelines yesterday, said the advice was "if you're sick you should stay home".