What should I do if my child is ill?

We parents do everything we can to prevent our children getting sick. Your child may still get sick despite your best efforts. Children, especially pre-school and childcare students, can be exposed to virus- and germ-causing …

We parents do everything we can to prevent our children getting sick. Your child may still get sick despite your best efforts. Children, especially pre-school and childcare students, can be exposed to virus- and germ-causing bacteria. Babies can catch up to 8 colds in their first year. Your child may also get one or more of these.

How can I tell if my child has a fever?

Children younger than 3 years old may not be able express their feelings verbally. A sudden change in behaviour can often be a sign that your child is having trouble. You should be looking out for signs such as increased crying, fussiness and a decreased appetite.

Care for a sick child

It is a good idea to consult your paediatrician about the best treatment options and to follow them. If the symptoms are mild, you can just let it go. Here are some suggestions for parents to soothe their child and make them feel more at ease.

  1. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep

To help your child recover, he/she needs to get plenty of rest and sleep. Give your child more time for naps and get him/her to sleep earlier. Engage in quiet activities during your child’s awake time. Avoid stimulating activities. You should also limit the number of visitors to your child’s activities. This will prevent them from being exposed to more germs or viruses and interfere with their sleep.

  1. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids

Fluids are more important when your child is sick than normal. This is especially important if your child is suffering from diarrhoea. Encourage your child to breastfeed, to take formula, or to drink fluids if he/she has loose stools frequently.

Fever patients need to drink more fluids because a higher body temperature can lead to a sharp rise in water loss through the skin. Children with colds and coughs should drink more liquids to help ease their symptoms and make them feel better.

  1. Make sure your child has a clean nose

Children who have their noses clogged will be more sensitive and may feel less able to eat or sleep well. Clearing your child’s nose with saline drops can make them feel more at ease. To clear the nostrils, apply 2 to 4 drops to each nostril.

Avoid putting cotton swabs or twisted tissues in your child’s nostrils. They can cause injury and even get stuck. Your doctor should be consulted before you give your child any over-the-counter cold or cough medicine. Children younger than two years old may not be able to take certain medications.

  1. Keep your child’s body temperature down

Keep your child’s fever at bay by keeping it down. Light clothing is best for this. Avoid blanketing your child in thick blankets, and keep the room cool.

Give your child lukewarm sponge baths. Avoid using cold or iced waters and don’t sponge your child for longer than 30 minutes. To avoid chills, it is important to dry your child immediately.

If your baby is less than 3 months old and has a fever greater than 38 degrees Celsius, consult your paediatrician. Paracetamol infant drops may be prescribed by your doctor to be administered at intervals of 4 to 6 hours. You should give your child the right dose according to their weight. To confirm the medication instructions, you should always consult your doctor.

  1. Give lots of comfort and hugs

Give your child extra attention and care. Talk to your child softly and snuggle up. To ease any pains or aches, give your child a gentle massage. This will help to get him/her to sleep better at night. Breastfeeding is allowed if you’re still breastfeeding. Breastfeeding a sick baby provides fluids, nutrition, and comfort.

When is it best to see a doctor

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s health, consult a doctor. If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, don’t delay in consulting a doctor.

  • Fever

If your child is younger than 3 months, you should immediately consult a doctor if their body temperature exceeds 38 degrees Celsius.

If the temperature rises above 39 degrees Celsius in babies over 3 months of age, it is best to consult a doctor. The body’s temperature naturally rises at night so even a mild fever during the day, it can increase while you sleep. Your child’s fever should be monitored by parents throughout the night. If your child experiences a fever lasting more than three days, it is a good idea to seek medical attention.

  • A persistent cold and cough

Common cold symptoms usually last between 10 and 14 days. They will resolve on their own. Consult a doctor if your child has persistent symptoms of the common cold, such as a cough or a sore throat.

If your child experiences a severe case of vomiting and has a persistent cough, it is best to see a doctor immediately.

  • Diarrhoea

If your child experiences frequent loose or watery stool that exceeds the number of times your child drinks or eats, consult a doctor.

You should be looking out for signs of dehydration such as a reduced amount of wet diapers, less urine than usual and no tears when you cry, dry lips, sunken eyes, and a dry mouth. If there are other signs, such as a sunken soft spot or fontanelle on the top of your head, it could be an indication of malnutrition or dehydration.

  • Rashes

If rashes appear on a large area of the body or if your child experiences trouble sleeping or eating, consult a doctor. You should look out for signs such as pus formation or intense redness on the skin.

  • Seizures

Parents can witness the terrifying effects of seizures. However, if your child has a seizure, be sure to keep track of the duration and get checked by a doctor immediately.

Seizures can occur in many ways in children. High fever is a common reason for seizures in children. Place the child gently on his/her side on the ground to manage the seizure. This is so your child doesn’t choke on saliva or vomit. To ensure your child does not get sucked into objects nearby during a seizure, you should remove them. You can avoid choking by avoiding putting anything in your child’s mouth, or offering food or drinks.

To determine how sick your child is, monitor their behaviour and symptoms closely. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should take them to an emergency room.

Breathing problems (flare of nostrils or fast breathing), pale or bluish lips, in-drawing chest, flaring of noses, difficulty swallowing, and/or rapid breathing

  • Incapable to breastfeed, or drink liquids
  • Unusually tired
  • It is very difficult to console someone who is so irritable.