Every year, people in America catch a billion colds. The average child gets up to ten a year, and five out of six kids will have at least one ear infections before age three. A further 40% will have three or more ear infections by the time they get to three. From the best food for sick kids to the right moment to head to a local hospital or urgent center, here are tips for taking care of your tots when they’re sick:
- Make sure they get all the sleep they’re willing to take. This is the best thing for them and the easiest thing for you, too! If a sick child falls asleep, leave them alone as long as the fever isn’t too high and they’re breathing easily. Even if you normally restrict screen time, now is not the time to worry about it. And don’t worry about food for sick kids, either, so long as they’re sleeping comfortably.
- Keep them hydrated or you’ll regret it later. Some kids will keep refusing liquids, especially if they have a sore throat, only to find themselves really miserable and whiny later. Keep offering water, juice, rehydrating drinks, and soup, and only take no for an answer so often.
- Make every room of the house ready for a sick occupant. This doesn’t mean you’ll have a sick person in every room at once. It just means that sick kids move around, and the last thing you want is to run out of tissues in one room or another just when a child starts sneezing or needs to blow her nose.
- Keep feeding them good food for sick kids. In one sense, good food for sick kids is whatever food sick kids will eat! But assuming they will eat, liquids and hydrating foods are really important. Oral hydrating fluids might be important if a child is vomiting a lot. Otherwise, good food for sick kids includes bland foods and lean meats, diluted juices that aren’t too acidic, and anything that isn’t full of sugar.
- Be careful of the over to counter meds. Especially with children who are younger than six, it’s very important to not give too much. Carefully read all labels, and make sure you check that two different meds–say one for a cough and one for congestion–don’t have some of the same ingredients. You can accidentally overdose that way.
- Know when to go to urgent care. Some of this will depend on age. For children under six months of age, even symptoms that would be minor in older kids could be very serious. This includes trouble feeding or a fever over 100.5 degrees F, For older children, look out for noisy breathing, poor circulation that shows as tearless crying, clammy skin, and dark sunken eyes, a very high fever, or any kind of seizure or blocked airway.
- Where should I take my child? The emergency room is for any genuine emergency, such as seizures, very high fevers, or stopped breathing. For less serious problems, find a local urgent care center where you can be seen faster, and usually cheaper, than at the hospital.
Having a sick child is never fun, and it can also be scary. Keep an eye on your child for serious sympoms that might warrant a doctor’s advice, and otherwise remember that tender loving care from family is usually the best medicine of all. More on this topic.