Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

No blowin’ in the wind here!:

Parents being urged not to let kids blow out candles on a cake together.
By Motherpedia with AAP
Date: February 07 2013
Editor Rating:

The Gillard Government has declared that 'cake police' will not shut down childcare centres. 

The Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, gave the reassurance after the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) issued guidelines that advised against blowing out candles on birthday cakes being shared at childcare centres.

Ms Plibersek says centres that don't comply won't be punished but it makes sense for children not to spread germs knowingly.

"There's a degree of common sense required," Ms Plibersek said.

"We're not going to have the cupcake police out, but childcare centres know that whatever they can do to reduce infections in childcare centres is going to be good for the kids, good for the families they support and good for childcare workers."

The updated guidelines entitled Staying Healthy aim to prevent the spread of illness. But some childcare centres and the AMA think they may have gone too far.

"You can't help but feel we're becoming so much of a 'nanny state'. It's one thing to introduce seat belts and plain packaging cigarettes. It's another to say kids can't blow out candles on a cake," Pauline Nevin, a childcare worker from inner city Sydney said.

"It's such a simple pleasure that kids have in sharing their birthday and blowing out the candles, and there are so many other more important infection control guidelines," she added.

Ms Plibersek rejects concerns that the guidelines go too far.

"These are just suggestions for childcare workers if they want to reduce the spread of infections in childcare centres."

The guidelines state that children should not blow out candles on a birthday cake to be shared with friends to avoid spreading germs.

"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 enough cupcakes for all the other children (or) provide a separate cupcake (with a candle if they wish) for the birthday child and a large cake that can be cut and shared," the new NHRMC guidelines state.

Another guideline stresses that children should wash their hands before and after playing in the sandpit, using alcohol sanitiser.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is inclined to agree with Ms Nevin.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said it was normal and healthy for children to be exposed to a certain amount of environmental antigens that build their immune systems.

"If you live in a plastic bubble you're going to get infections (later in life) that you can't handle," he told News Limited.

Early Childhood and Childcare Minister Kate Ellis also defended the guidelines.

"Just to be clear - there are no rules for childcare centres on birthday cakes and they can determine their own policies and procedures," Ms Ellis wrote on Twitter.

Ms Nevin asks if that's the case, why issue the guidelines. She says that her childcare centre, based in Ms Plibersek's electorate in Sydney, will continue to allow birthday cakes for children.

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