Raising children is harrowing. And it only gets worse when one of them starts feeling under the weather. It’s frustrating as a parent because they are too small yet to articulate what they are feeling or what hurts, but you know them well enough to know that they are not themselves. So what’s a parent to do?
The best first call is most often to your pediatrician’s office. By now you have vetted a local doctor and have undoubtedly been to see them a few times. Often you can call the office and speak with a nurse who can assess your child’s symptoms, give you a recommended course of action and insight into any bugs that may be going around without your ever having to leave your home.
Here are some of the most common conditions in toddlers:
Common cold: While it may take different forms, this is sure to be something you see from time to time in your children and even in yourself. A mild fever, congestion, coughing and a sore throat are sure signs that your little one needs some time to be comfy on the couch or bed while resting and taking in lots of fluids. A cool mist humidifier in her room and maybe some children’s fever reducer may make her more comfortable.
RSV: While kids 2 and under are most susceptible, any child with a compromised immune system is at risk. Respiratory syncytial virus affects the lungs and can mirror the symptoms of a cold. But for those who are at a higher risk, this can quickly turn into bronchitis or pneumonia.
Roseola: For some, this disappears before the parents even realize the child is sick. But others can develop a rash on their chest accompanied by a high fever, congestion and coughing. Sometimes the rash appears later on. You should contact your doctor if the fever spikes or remains high for 3 days.
Gastroenteritis: This is the technical term for the stomach bug that causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. This usually resolves itself in a few days. In the meantime, resting and fluids are the top priority. Usually parents make the mistake of giving their children too much fluid too soon. But giving a tablespoon of the heavy syrup found in canned peaches, for instance, every 15 minutes can sooth your child’s gut and help them on the road to recovery. Keep up this pace for a few hours until you know they are done vomiting. Only then is it safe to start very small portions of very bland foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, tea and toast (the BRATT diet).
Hand-Foot-Mouth: This virus is prolific during the summer and fall months. It is passed through fecal matter, touch, coughs and sneezes. It presents itself as sores on the hands, feet and in the mouth. It’s important to keep your child hydrated while he recovers. Pay particular attention to his hydration level if the sores in his mouth hurt.
Being a parent is no joke and definitely not when children are sick. But being prepared ahead of time by having some supplies on hand may make you feel more equipped. Provisions such as bandages, first aid ointment, children’s ibuprofen and acetaminophen, a children’s thermometer and a cool mist humidifier are basic supplies that can empower you to care for your child when she is under the weather.