How to Comfort a Sick Child?

Seeing your child sick is a heart-wrenching situation for every parent.
Seeing your child sick is a heart-wrenching situation for every parent.

Seeing your child sick is a heart-wrenching situation for every parent. Caring for your sick child stands high on your priority list. At such times, you do not feel relieved unless your child starts feeling better. Here is how you can comfort your child when they become sick:

  • See to it that they get to rest: Young children need more sleep (at least 10 hours) than adults. Try getting them enough rest by reminding them that sleeping will help them feel better faster. You must keep them away from schools and daycare centers if they are sick.
  • Keep them hydrated: Children are easily dehydrated by illness than adults. Dehydration makes them fatigued, restless, and sicker. Keep giving them sips of water or fruit juices throughout the day. An electrolyte solution is a much better option.
  • Help relieve their stuffy nose: Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines such as decongestants are not good for children under four years of age. Use nasal saline drops that will help clear off the mucus from the nasal passages. Apply petroleum jelly on the nose (only the outer side) if your child’s nostrils become dry. 
  • Keep them well-nourished: Soups and broths will not only keep your child hydrated but also replenish them with nutrients. A good option is a warm chicken soup that you can prepare using chicken and adding vegetables. This soup will provide not only nourishment but also warmth, which will also be soothing, especially in flu, cold, and cough.
  • Sponging: Washing a sweaty body with a warm water sponge is advised in cases of mild fever. It relieves my clammy feeling, and the child sleeps better.
  • Temperature charting: Charting two-hourly temperature in case of fever may give a clue to the cause of fever. It also helps to adjust the dosage of fever medicines.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is believed to help in quick recovery from illness. Give the child fruits rich in vitamin C such as oranges, grapefruit, and berries.
  • Lightweight outfits: Dress your child in lightweight, breathable clothes.
  • Activities: When the child is not sleeping, keep them distracted with quiet activities such as books, games, and crafts.
  • Cuddling your child: Cuddling up, although seems a simple thing, can help a lot in making the child comfortable. It provides reassurance to the child that they will be well soon.

Can you treat your sick child at home?

When your child becomes sick, you first need to decide whether you want to call the doctor or 911, visit the nearest emergency room, or take care of them at home. 

There are times when you do not know whether you should take the child to the doctor or to treat them at home. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are the conditions when you can treat your child at home:

  • The child has symptoms that are common, mild, and familiar
  • The child is active and playful even if they have symptoms such as fever and headache (the child’s behavior is more important than his temperature in fever)

If the child becomes sick with symptoms of fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing, which are typical of coronavirus, do not delay in seeking medical help. Get the right diagnosis at the earliest and follow instructions from the doctor. 

When to call the doctor for your sick child?

It is okay to treat a child at home for minor symptoms. However, if you think that your child’s health is not improving and there are some serious signs and symptoms, do not hesitate to call the doctor. Make note of all the problems your child is having and the duration of the illness.

Call the doctor if

  • The child’s cold, cough, flu, or abdominal pain is not improving but is getting worse in a few days.
  • The child’s fever keeps coming back.
  • The child has a sore throat lasting for more than two days or in which there is an accompanying abdominal pain.
  • The child is suffering from vomiting or diarrhea with signs of dehydration such as
    • Little or no urination in the past 24 hours.
    • Sunken eyes.
    • Dry skin and a dry tongue.
  • The child cries while peeing.
  • The child has suffered burns such as scalds.
  • The child has had animal or insect bites (spider, fire-ants, wasps, and bees).

When to take your sick child to the emergency room?

If your child is sick, you should watch out for certain signs. These warning signs warrant a call on 911 or a visit to the nearest emergency room. These include:

  • Fever and headache with neck stiffness
  • Shortness of breath or an increased rate of breathing
  • Rash all over the body
  • Cyanosis (the hands, legs, face, or lips turn blue or purple)
  • Diminished alertness
  • Sluggishness
  • Extreme sleepiness with difficulty in waking up the child
  • Unconsciousness
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe burn
  • Suspicion of medication overdose (ingestion) or poisoning
  • Seizure (fit)


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