When you are a parent the conversation that you have with other adults tends to change drastically. That conversation changes even more when your friends start having babies too. The questions you googled in the wee hours of the night start to be the things your friends ask you about. Instead of talking about having an evening out with your husband, you are talking about how to stop the annoying virus that is causing a consistent runny nose or stomach ache.
Fall and winter are just gross when it comes to kids. They are cooped up in the house or at school, and the germs just fester and circulate from kid to kid. This leaves parents to trying just about anything to keep our kids healthy.
I AM NOT A DOCTOR, THIS ADIVCE IS STRICTLY FROM MY EXPERIENCE AND ADIVCE I HAVE RECIEVED FROM OUR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD ARE SICK PLEASE CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
Always call your child’s pediatrician when they are sick. Even if it’s just to chat with a nurse and get on file that they have the runs. The more your doctor knows the better they can care for your child. I just want to share what I have learned to help prevent sickness and some ways to help you and your kiddos when you are sick. A lot of this might be common sense, but are good reminders when you have sick babies and haven’t slept in a week!
- Wash wash wash wash wash your hands and their hands!
- Wash surfaces. I try to stay away from heavy chemicals. I generally stick to The Honest Company multipurpose cleaner for every day cleaning and Method All Natural disinfectant for disinfecting everything else. Every day AT LEAST once I wipe down all the door knobs, light switches that have been touched, and anything that might have been touched by potty/snotty hands. I usually do this after bed time to give it time to disinfect before someone else touches.
- Healthy diet and drinking lots of water. BK#1 is super picky, so I am aware of how hard it is to get kids to eat a balanced meal, but keeping their bodies full of vitamins will really keep their immune systems up and running.
- Stay active! The more oxygen your body has the better it can fight bacteria.
- SLEEP. Adults and kids alike. If you don’t get enough sleep, and you are run down then you are more likely to get sick. Everyone is busy, busy this time of year with the holidays, but that doesn’t mean we can run on less sleep. Make sure your kiddos are still staying schedule with their naps and bedtime (and you too!).
- Get the flu vaccine-The CDC says it’s the single best way to prevent the flu and it is covered in full by most insurances. It’s available at doctor’s offices and most pharmacies too.
- Teach your child germ “etiquette“. Sneezing and coughing into your arm, washing your hands after blowing your nose, walking away from people if you are coughing or sneezing, etc. YES, even if they are a toddler they can learn things like this!
- Teach not to share at school, and about areas where there are more germ! For ex: Drink from a water bottle and not the water fountain, don’t eat food that dropped on the food tray or floor, and send them with hand sanitizer if allowed.
We can do all of these things, and our kids will still get sick; it’s just a part of life! The following list of sicknesses are just common illnesses, and again: I am not a medical professional this is based on my own experiences and research.
- They can be caused by just about anything and everything in younger children. My kids get heat rash SUPER easy, they also have pretty sensitive skin. A rash doesn’t always mean sick. Keep that in mind.
- Rashes are NOT easy to diagnose, don’t try and WedMD your way through a bad rash. If it’s a mild rash that doesn’t go away after a day or so then call your pediatrican. If it came out of nowhere, is BAD and doesn’t go away. CALL THEIR PEDITRICIAN.
- Call your pediatrician first if the rash is accompanied by a fever, pussing, scabbing, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or vomiting as any or all of these symptoms can mean a serious illness or allergic reaction.
- A rash from simple skin irritation can usually be soothed and goes away. – Try an oatmeal bath, lavender essential oils, unscented lotion for dry skin (sometimes looks like rash), and thinking about possible things that could have caused the rash. ie: new detergent, new un-washed clothes, husband’s beard rubbed their face, you wore a new perfume/lotion/bodywash, they were sweating, outside rolling around in the grass.
- Diaper rash– Keep your baby dry and clean. Remember less is more when it comes to creams. Also, think about what your child ate and if they are teething or not. Certain foods make my LO’s bum instantly turn red. When BK#2 is teething the instant he pees he gets a rash if not changed promptly. As with all things…if your efforts aren’t making it go away call your doctor. A yeast infection can easily be mistaken for diaper rash and it generally needs an antifungal prescribed from your pediatrician.
- Read more here for detailed description of common rashes. Don’t do a google image search. It’s GROSS. I’m warning you now.
- Fluid builds up behind the ear drum and causes an infection.
- Symptoms can range for ear infections. Most kids tug at their ears, run a fever, have trouble sleeping, and are really fussy. If they are older hopefully they tell you that their ears actually hurt. Some kids don’t have any real symptoms other than a fever, so it is always important for them to be seen when a persistent fever arises.
- Pediatricians easily can diagnose an ear infection and prescribe an antibiotic.
- Sometimes ear infections can be persistent and/or your child can be susceptible to them. So keep in mind that if it keeps occurring your doctor might start talking about other measures, like tubes, to relieve the problem. I am not trying to scare new parents, but just making you aware.
- Want to read more? Here is a great article with the answer to just about any ear infection question you can have.
- Rest! As adults we get run down and sick when we don’t rest or are over stressed. We generally feel better after some good sleep, right? If my child is sick the first thing I always do is push naps and early bedtimes!
- Remember, that a fever is the body’s way of fighting off an infection. When your child has a low grade fever (99F-100F), that does not always need to be controlled with medication, but keep an eye on it.
- Push fluids! Even if they don’t have an appetite be sure to keep offering water, pedialyte juice, broth etc. If the child is old enough try warm liquids.
- To break up a stuffy nose or chest congestion use a cool mist humidifier, saline spray and a bulb syringe with little ones to keep their nasal passages clear.
- Serve easy to eat foods. You don’t want to make their throat hurt even more.
- This is a Virus that can infection of the lungs and breathing passages.
- Very contagious. If you have more than one child chances are the others will get it. Try and separate them if you can.
- It generally has normal cold symptoms but the cough is a wheeze and bluish color of the skin due to lack of oxygen.
- Even though it sounds really scary it is actually really common. Our little guy had it when he was 6 months old and I guarantee that I was way more stressed out than I needed to be. The doctor prescribed a breathing treatment and within a week he was better.
- Beyond the breathing treatments push fluids so they don’t become dehydrated and frequently use a bulb syringe to keep their nose clear.
- Keep in mind that children that contract RSV are at higher risk for other respiratory infections. With all things just stay vigilant and follow doctor’s orders.
- Usually affects children younger than 5, but can affect older children and adults.
- It usually starts with a fever, low appetite, and sore throat. One or two days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth. They are small red spots with a blister. A skin rash may also develop over one or two days on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet.
- These sores are pretty painful. It is important to make sure you keep your child hydrated, because of the sores in their mouth they might not want to swallow.
- Your doctor will prescribe medication. For older children use mouth washes to numb pain. For little ones do your best to keep them comfortable. Try orajel if allowed for their age.
- The CDC has a TON of information about HFM here.
- Again…don’t google…it’s gross.
- Symptoms of strep throat, which is very common among kids and teens, include fever, stomach pain, red- swollen tonsils, and (depending on how it has progressed) sometimes white patches on tongue and throat.
- Requires treatment with antibiotics.
- I know I have said is already, but hand washing is so important. If strep throat isn’t treated it is most likely to spread the infection when the symptoms are most severe, but can still infect others for up to 3 weeks. Granted, it just looks like a normal cold at first, but you can help prevent the spread with proper germ etiquette.
- Sometimes strep throat starts with a rash and then the severe cold symptoms start.
- “As more and more bugs become resistant to drugs, occasionally strep throat in children does not respond to the usual milder antibiotics. If your child has not improved within two to three days, contact your pediatrician.” Strep throat can get a little scary, so stay vigilant and communicate with your doctor. I guarantee they would rather see them and just say it’s a cold than have to put them on a heavy dose of antibiotics and steroids. Read more about Strep here.
- Inflammation of the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.
- It is definitely shocking when your child wakes up with a bright red and pussy eye, but it generally won’t cause them to lose any vision.
- Pink eye spreads incredibly fast. It is important to call your pediatrician as soon as you can, do not touch the eye, don’t let them touch their eye, and if they do immediately wash hands without touching anything else.
- Sometimes it passes on its own, but you want your child to be seen so your doctor can tell you if it is allergies, viral, or bacterial.
- Your pediatrician will most likely prescribe an antibiotic. You can relieve discomfort with a warm wash cloth.
- Again with the google…don’t….just know its red, puffy and pussy sometimes.
- Croup causes swelling and irritation of the upper airways
- It’s caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold.
- Kids with croup have a “barky” cough especially when crying.
- Most common from 6 months – 3 years old
- In most cases it will pass in time, but in some instances your doctor might want your child to be seen or to give prescribed medication. As I have said above, just call and let them know what is going on so your child can be seen to rule anything else out.
- Breathing in moist air should help kids feel better (humidifier). Make sure they are drinking enough and getting plenty of rest.
- This is the most frustrating, because its extremely hard to differentiate between a mild cold and allergies. “Long-lasting sneezing, with a stuffy or runny nose, may signal the presence of allergic rhinitis—the collection of symptoms that affect the nose when you have an allergic reaction to something you breathe in and that lands on the lining inside the nose.”
- If you think your child has a long lasting cold, you might want to bring up allergies to their pediatrician, especially if the parents have allergies.
- Your pediatrician can prescribe medication, try to avoid triggers like playing in fresh cut lawn, stay hydrated, and there are also multiple natural ways to help with the symptoms. In our family we use essential oils.
I know there are plenty other illnesses that could be wrong, but these tend to be the most common culprit for sick kiddos.
Remember: If your child has to be treated with antibiotics then they were contagious, and are contagious for 24 hours after they have started antibiotics. Same with a fever. A child should be fever free for 24 hours before they return to day care/school, and normal activity with friends and siblings. I understand it’s really hard to take off work and move schedules around but the 24 hour rule really will benefit everyone.
Try not to Google or WebMD your child’s symptoms. I know it is extremely hard not to, because we just want to fix them and make them better, but stressing yourself out and making yourself an anxious wreck is not good for them. They need a parent with a clear and calm head to take care of them.