This is a guest post by Lauren James, preschool teacher, former nanny, and mom to Miss; a 7 year old who happens to be best friends with my girls. You can find more of Lauren’s writing at Raising Roots.
It’s no fun to be sick, and can be heartbreaking when your child is unwell. Doctors always tell us to keep kids in bed when they are sick, but that can be really hard when you have a toddler or preschooler. Kids don’t like to be sick, and just want to play, sometimes seeming less sick than they really might be. Bigger kids are easy, give them some books, something to listen to, and some small play figures in their bed and they are good for a few hours, but what can keep a small child still and quiet when they are sick?
When Miss was small and would come down with whatever was going around the playgroup, we would break rules. We normally don’t watch television at our house, but when someone’s sick, the sofa becomes a nest and it’s Movie Day. As a Mom, I understand that my chid being sick means needing me more, not me getting to get something done. We used to sit and snuggle and watch movies, and I’d make toast, get crackers, or rinse out a bucket…
How to care for sick kids
Caring for sick babies and toddlers:
If your baby or toddler is used to being worn in a sling or other carrier, try that for a little while. Most little ones just want to be held anyway when they aren’t feeling well, and a good sling will save your arms.
Other ideas to keep them occupied:
- Keep a few special videos or recorded shows on hand for viewing during illness
- A basket of favorite books, a squishy place to snuggle, and some warm blankets… be prepared to read that favorite book a hundred times
- If your child is nursing, sometimes that can be the best way to get them to relax, and snuggle.
- A sippy of water, juice, or whatever else you can use to keep the fluids flowing. “Milk makes Mucus” is a saying in our house, so we avoid it during colds. (This doesn’t apply to nursing of course.)
- A small flashlight and a dim room, or one of those items that projects things onto the walls and ceilings.
Caring for sick Preschoolers:
Preschoolers can be more of a challenge, since they are often very active, and may act well, even though they are quite sick. Creating a space they can relax and rest is key.
- Take a few favorite small toys in a nice cushy place, talk about how the blankets can be caves or hills and see where his imagination can take him.
- Wrap up in a blanket and do a puzzle together, or play a board game (let him win!!)
- Water color painting with mama, doing this on a damp paper towel is very interesting too!!
Remember to check with your child’s school about their policies on sick kids. Most schools, nursery schools, and daycares ask that the child is fever free for 24 hours before sending them back to school. This means no fever reducing medication, like Advil or Tylenol. Some places also ask that any mucus (ew!) coming out of noses is clear, not green or yellow, which is a sign of infection. It can be hard to keep a nearly healthy child home, but if you let them have that extra day to get better, they’ll be less likely to pick up something new.
What tips and tricks do you have for occupying a sick child?
Kelly’s notes: We’ve had more than our share of illness and injuries over the past few months, and use many of Lauren’s tips. Remember that while the TV may be on more than you like, you can balance it out again when your children are well by spending a week or two outdoors.