Tips for dealing with a sick child

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Last week I shared some details of some of the more common childhood illnesses.  However, as I have had my fair share of sick kids I thought it might be useful to share some practical tips on how to get through the tiring few days when you have a child sick with one of these viral illnesses.

Invest in a good thermometer

I use a braun in ear one – The Braun Thermoscan IRT 4520 – it is just the business.  I had bought the pop in the mouth ones and cheaper in-ear ones but my investment in the braun one has been one of the best purchases I have made in my motherhood career.  It is expensive but so worth it.  Any little inkling that a temperature is coming I just pop it in the ear and I know in seconds.


Keep the medicine cabinet stocked

As you may have spotted in my post on common childhood illness most of the time kids get virus’ and need nothing but rest, hydration and some pain relief. It is therefore essential to keep your medicine cabinet stocked with appropriate medication at all times as when kids get sick they go downhill fast.  I use calpol – easily available even in my local supermarket which is open until late – as my paracetamol of choice.

Sometimes trying to get medicine into a child is not easy so I opt for suppositories – paralink is a paracetamol suppository but if you are ever in Spain they are about 1/10th of the price there so I often stock up if I or anyone I know is going!

Nurofen for kids is ibuprofen and is available in liquid and suppository.  The suppositories are probably the best pain relief I have ever used.  Quick, easy and acts really fast. The liquid is good too although my kids hate the sharp orange flavour.

Calpol and Nurofen

Never be without paracetamol and ibuprofen

One of the greatest pieces of knowledge I have learnt as a mother is that you can take paracetamol and ibuprofen at the same time.  That said I tend to alternate – if I give calpol at 8am I might give ibuprofen at 10 or 11am and then calpol again at 1pm or 2pm etc. obviously following the instructions on the pack as to how much I can give!

This way the child has a constant flow of pain relief.  I would give less overnight – a nurofen suppository going to sleep and hopefully make it to 2 or 3am for a dose of calpol or paralink suppository.

I know some people prefer not to medicate their kids but I can’t imagine not if they are in pain or unwell.  I mean if I have a headache I take some paracetamol.  I can’t imagine life with out these products in my medicine cabinet.

Back up childcare

If you are a working mother one of my biggests tips is to have some type of back up childcare – or at least a plan of action when one of the kids is sick and can’t go to their minder or creche.  When I was a mum of two I had two kids in full time creche so if one got sick (and in the first few months of creche they certainly did!) my mum was my backup minder.  I could call her of an evening to say they were ill – or if I got a call from creche I called her to pick said child up.  It eased so much stress.  Most recently when we had an aupair we had included in the agreement that if any of them were sick she would mind them for the full day – literally we could ask her at 8am.  She was great and we generally gave her a bit extra or some extra time off to pay her back.

For you it might be agreeing with your boss that you work from home on such days or can take a days leave at short notice – whatever it is have a plan before any sickness strikes so you are not left in a panic.

Know when to call the Doctor

One of the hardest judgements is to know when to call the Doctor.  I still haven’t quite mastered it but of course I would always say if in doubt go – better to be sent away being told its a virus that will run its course then to sit at home thinking it’s just a virus when it’s really a serious bacterial infection.  I generally follow the 3 day rule – if after 3 days there is no improvement I think about the Doctor although many virus’ do take a good 5-7 days to get through.  It’s a tough one – if I had the answer I would probably be sitting in the Bahamas sipping on a cocktail on my private yacht!  Go with your instincts – you will be amazed at how the motherhood instinct kicks in!  Never feel bad for bring a sick child to the doctor and have it turn out to be a viral illness and your Doctor certainly shouldn’t dismiss you either – if they do, get a new one.

Yesterday's Call
Call the Doctor if in doubt……Vincent_AF / / CC BY-SA

Look after yourself

I have lost track of how many times I have ended up sick myself the week after one of my kids have.  Of course if there is a virus or illness floating around the house there is always a chance you will pick up something but if you are tired and run down from a tough week looking after your little one you are even more likely to get hit with some illness yourself and no one likes a sick mammy!  Make sure you look after yourself.  Get as much rest as possible.  Draft in as much help as you can and don’t worry about the house being immaculate  – you can catch up on everything when everyone is well again.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy Winter 🙂


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