It’s official. Cold and flu season has arrived! It’s winter here in Australia and while this used to mean excitement over donning tights, a scarf and warm winter coat, since becoming a mum it’s means wet parks and sick kids. And winter is long, very long.
At the school gate conversation is about runny noses and tummy bugs as mums exchange war stories and offer up helpful tips. The dreaded gastro is doing the rounds, colds and coughs are widespread and then there are the ear infections and raging fevers. It’s no fun for the kids and it’s certainly no picnic for us mums either!
So, what can you do when your little one is the latest to hit the deck? Here are my top six tips to help your survive the season of dread. And just quietly, can winter hurry up and go some place else now?
1. Bucket loads of comfort (literally, and metaphorically!)
Sitting up with a sick child through the night is a parental right of passage. I remember when my daughter had an aggressive bout of gastro. I sat with her under a blanket on the couch as she vomited throughout the entire night at 3-minute intervals. I passed her the bucket, held back her hair as she was sick, wiped her mouth with a wet cloth and then held her close to my chest. We repeated this process until morning.
I have never felt more a mother than I did during that night. Naturally, I didn’t enjoy seeing her in such discomfort, but what I did enjoy was our closeness. It was just she and I, and the sound of the washing machine humming in the dead of the night. In those hours she needed me more than ever before and it took me back to my own childhood when my mum did the same for me. Sick kids need their mums.
2. Follow your child’s cues
Sometimes a child is so sick they are too lethargic to do anything other than snooze. This can make them a very easy patient ☺. Pop them on the couch, under the blankie and pop the TV on or plug in their favourite DVD (the longest one you own!). You can do this entirely guilt-free!!! Let them watch it ad nauseam. All my screen rules go out the window when my kids are sick. If they’ve got a fever then they can watch as much TV as they like!
3. Dose them up on TLC, and Nurofen.
When young children don’t feel well, they look to their parents for reassurance. What they need most is comfort. The best medicine is mum’s undivided attention. If possible, adjust your schedule as much as you can to accommodate your little patient’s needs (hard for working mums, I know!) The second best medicine is Nurofen, particularly for bringing down a fever and relieving tension headaches. Since becoming a mum I keep a constant supply of the stuff at home and we take it wherever we go. Last week Miss H got sick very quickly. She went awfully pale, had a very high temperature and became listless. She also complained of a headache. I gave her some fluids and a dose of nurofen which regulated her temperature and reduced her pain and she pepped up considerably. Love the stuff!
4. Put Your Doctor Kit To Use
How much do kids love playing doctor and patient? If they don’t actually require a real trip to the doctor I adopt that role at home. They love me using their medical kit to evaluate and diagnose. Nothing like mum playing doc to make them giggle. After all, laughter is the best medicine — and packs the most palliative punch. I save a few special stickers and fun Band-Aids for moments like these. And maybe a jellybean or two!
5. Doctor her diet
The expression “starve a cold, feed a fever,” is a cold and flu myth. A sick child still is sick needs a nutritious diet — just adjust your tot’s meals to suit appetite. If they are willing to eat (don’t force it), give them whatever nutritious foods they’re hungry for. Getting plenty of fluids (even via tiny sips throughout the day) is also important and is especially beneficial if your child has a fever, cold, or flu. Another good idea is to serve foods with a high water content, like soup or broths. But if they are throwing up a lot or have persistent diarrhea, give them an oral rehydration solution, like hydrolyte.
6. Counter congestion
Many toddlers (and even some preschoolers) haven’t mastered the art of nose blowing and so they suffer with stuffed-up sinuses. Help your child to breathe easier with a squirt of saline solution in each nostril a few times a day: It’ll help loosen up the mucus (gross, but good for getting better faster). Run a humidifier in their bedroom and try vapor rub on their feet with socks. If a constant drip has left your sick toddler’s nostrils and upper lip red and raw, keep the area slicked with a bit of Vaseline or petroleum jelly–based ointment. And, tissue tip: if your little one is going through a box of tissues daily with their runny nose, you don’t want all those discarded tissues spread over the entire house and contaminate everyone else in the family. Pop a plastic bag by their bed, or on the sofa and get them to place old tissues directly into the bag. A friend of mine suggested this simple tip at the good old school gate (where most useful parenting information is exchanged) and it’s genius!
What are your best remedies for a sick child? Hit me with your tips below. Together let’s kick these colds and flus to the curb!
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