Life with sick kids can be really difficult. Keeping them comfortable, wondering if you should take them in or not, trying to keep them hydrated, trying to take care of other kids and not let them get sick, taking time off of work. It can all be a lot, especially if the illness drags on for a few days.
With four kids age seven and under we’ve learned quite a few tricks over the years to keep them comfortable and to maintain our own sanity while they are sick.
10 Ways to make life with Sick Kids EASIER
Fevers are one of the scariest things to deal with when your kids are little. Invest in a high quality digital thermometer so that you can take their temp quickly without having to wrestle with them. You’ll feel confident that you are getting an accurate reading and can even take their temp when they are sleeping.
2. Try to keep them on their regular sleep schedule as much as possible
Sleep is so important when kids are sick. Try your best to keep their normal routine so that they get as much sleep as possible and so that when the sickness has passed, they go right back to their regular schedule.
We try and keep our kids in their own beds unless they have a high fever that we want to monitor throughout the night or are feeling nauseous. If they do come into our room for the night we have them sleep on the floor. If they never get the idea that sickness equals getting to sleep in mom and dad’s bed they don’t fake illness down the road.
3. Using a soft cloth for their nose instead of tissues (this is key!!)
This grossed my husband out to no end, but hear me out! When any of our littles gets a runny nose I always use a receiving blanket or some other soft towel or cloth to wipe their nose with (think old fashioned hanky). Traditional tissues and toilet paper are rough on the nose and dry out the skin around it causing it to be red and chapped.
The trick to not spreading germs everywhere is just to use a clean section of the cloth each time you wipe and replace with clean ones as need be. Testimony: our two-year-old had a six week bought with a runny nose and he never once ran away from when I needed to wipe his nose, instead he would find me to wipe it because it didn’t hurt when I did. It really works well (You may even want to try it yourself!).
You may also want to purchase a nasal aspirator like a Nosefrida if you still have a little one. Many moms I know swear by them and they get great reviews on Amazon.
Well it should be no surprise that something that works to soothe chapness in areas when you’re nursing also works on other places :) Simply smooth lanolin cream on red noses and cheeks and see how quickly the skin returns to normal. It is also safe to use on chap lips when chapstick isn’t enough, and especially on the corners of the mouth when they get dry and cracked.
This is another tip that works great for adults, too. Need to return to work while getting over a cold? You’ll be able to get rid of the tell tale red nose quickly with this!
5. Take the stopper out of sippy cups or make the hole in the bottle nipple bigger
Sick kids need to stay hydrated, but it can be hard to suck through a bottle or sippy cup with a stuffed up nose. If the child is old enough we try and use a cup with a straw. But when they are little, pulling the stopper out of the sippy cup or cutting a bigger hole in the bottle nipple so that the liquid can flow on its own works very well.
6. Understand how fevers work
Fevers are a natural part of fighting off an illness, our body uses it to get better, but they can be very scary, especially when your children are little. Understanding how they work can help to know when to treat and when to let it run its course. Here is a great article to learn more about fevers.
7. Find a good book to read
So many things to do and all your sick child wants is for you to be next to them. They don’t care that you have a project to finish, loads of laundry and twelve other things that would be really nice to get done.
Last winter our 18 month old got sick right after Christmas. He was literally attached to me for two days. Fortunately I had gotten a new book for Christmas so I cleared my schedule (which took a little creativity) and held him in one arm and my book in the other. It made the time fly by and was actually restful for me, too.
8. Don’t worry if they aren’t eating
Our pediatrician shared with me that fluids are vital when they are sick, eating is not. He said it is ok if they go a day or two without an appetite as long as they are staying hydrated.
You see, digestion is actually a lot of work for our bodies. If the body is busy fighting off an illness, it may not want to do the work of digesting, hence a decreased appetite. But don’t we need energy? As long as your child is a healthy weight to begin with, our bodies always have energy stored and will rely on that. So don’t worry about trying to get your child to eat as long as they’re still drinking.
9. Make a rice sock
Heating pads can be comforting to sick ones, but we find a rice sock to be more cuddly. Simply fill and adult tube sock with a few cups of rice and tie a knot at the top. You can then microwave it for 45-60 seconds or place it in the freezer, whichever temperature would be more soothing to your child.
I sometimes let my kids draw faces on them and decorate it to look like a doll or animal. Then, when I have to go to make dinner or help the other kids, I give it to them to snuggle with until I’m able to come back.
I love using it, too, if I feel a tension headache coming on. It is warm and molds perfectly around your neck. It’s also nice if you’re just cold and want to warm up. And, you can even add a few drops of essential oils to the rice for a nice aroma.
10. When in doubt take them in
Perhaps the absolute worst part about having sick kids? Wondering if you should take them into the doctor or not. Is it strep or just a sore throat? Ear infection or just tired and crabby? Do they need an antibiotic or does it just need to run its course?
Of course there are financial considerations, but as you’re watching the clock and counting down the time until urgent care closes, my husband and I decided, if it is causing us stress not knowing what is wrong, we err on the side of just taking them in. There have been times when we’ve returned home with no prescription, just peace of mind, and that is ok.
The good part is that as your kids get older you begin to know them well. Each time you go to the doctor you learn something new, new signs to watch for, new things to try. You learn, you take them in less frequently for “nothing,” they get older and can tell you exactly what hurts. All of the wondering what to do is only for a season.
There have been many (many) times with sick kids where I have had to remind myself: “this to shall pass.” When you’re tired from being up all night and paying for daycare you’re not using, and having to take time off work. Or worse yet, having to find someone else to watch them and then worrying while you’re gone, the days can really drag on.
But know that you aren’t alone. We’ve all been there. And it will be summer again before we know it! ;)
*Also, please note, I am not a medical professional so please always check with your doctor when your kids are sick!
Do you have any tricks for keeping sick kids comfortable? Please share below!
Most Popular right now:
>> What Teachers REALLY want for Christmas (Written by a Teacher!)
>> How to Opt Out of Gift Exchanges (without looking like a scrooge!)
>> 5 Creative Gift Baskets that I gave last year (and they LOVED!)
>> 25 Cool & Useful Christmas Gifts from Amazon Prime under $15 each