10 Tips for Staying Home with a Sick Child

Posted on: 27.06.2016.

Author: Ana G

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Seeing that your child is sick is hard on parents, even when your little one just has the sniffles and a mild fever. When your child is not acting like themselves, it can be hard to help them feel better while also handling what you need to do around the house. If you have other kids or need to do some work from home, you might feel like you are not getting anything done or that you are chasing your own tail.

No matter whether your child has a messy illness like gastroenteritis or a highly contagious germ such as Strep throat, you might be feeling like your efforts are not helping enough. With the following tips, you can stay home with your sick child without getting overwhelmed, bored or uncomfortable, and you might even be able to brighten up your child's spirit.


Make Your Child Comfortable

When your child is sick, one of the most important things you can do is to make him or her comfortable. Many illnesses come along with headaches and sensitivity to lights, sounds and smells. Let your child rest in a quiet place, such as his or her bedroom with the door shut. This allows your other kids to watch TV without disturbing the sick child. A quiet environment makes it easy for your child to rest and fight off germs.

It is also important to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. With a fever, your child may feel too hot one minute and too cold the next. If you can, adjust the temperature in your child's room, this can maximize everyone's comfort. If not, consider using a fan for when your child is hot and an extra blanket for when your child is chilly. You can also set up a humidifier to moisten the air in your child's room, but take care to properly sanitize it in order to prevent mold from growing inside of the device. The humidified air reduces coughing and congestion and can ease sore throats.

Prop up your child's head to facilitate drainage of mucus. You can also postpone activities around the house that could release airborne contaminants, such as painting. Be sure to avoid smoking or wearing perfumes. These products can irritate your child's lungs. Don’t forget to open up the windows to let in some fresh air.


Soothe the Symptoms

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Grandma's ideas about chicken soup have been proven to be right when it comes to soothing the symptoms of many illnesses. Chicken soup contains important fluids and vitamins to help boost your child's immune system. There are many natural remedies you can try and you probably already have many healthy items in your home. Honey is recommended for children over the age of 1 as a way to soothe coughs and sore throats. It should not be given to babies due to the risk of infantile botulism.

Herbal tea with a squeeze of lemon and drop of honey also helps to soothe a sore throat and it will help to keep your child hydrated. Consider giving your child ice pops made with fruit juice for hydration during a fever. Gargling salt water helps get rid of germs like strep throat. If your child's nose is congested, a saline nasal spray can loosen up the mucus without any side effects.


Be Careful with OTC Medication

While natural remedies are great, there are occasions when your child will need a bit more help to feel better. There are formulations of over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are specially designed for children and can help to reduce a child's fever and body aches, lessen coughing and minimize congestion.

It is important to use OTC medications carefully, paying especially close attention to the dose. Some medications are for children ages 2 and older, while medicines to treat a cough are designed for kids over the age of 7. If you give your child a cough drop, make sure he or she is sitting up and not ready to fall asleep. Only give cough drops to kids ages 5 and older due to the risk of choking in younger kids.


Resting is Important

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For most viral illnesses and other minor afflictions, the best way to recover is to rest. However, most active kids will have a hard time sitting still and allowing their bodies to relax. Consider setting your child up on the couch or recliner with some blankets while you stream some favorite movies or shows on the TV.

You could also let your child have some screen time with a tablet and some educational games. An electronic reader can also provide some rest and relaxation. These activities will not exert your child's body but they will provide some distraction from annoying symptoms.


Provide Emotional Support

When kids are sick, they sometimes feel scared or upset by their symptoms. Giving your child some extra cuddling and attention can help. Even if you are concerned, try to avoid showing it because your child will absorb your feelings. You can put your attention toward getting your child a fresh drink or giving a back rub instead. You could sit near your child and read a book, sing songs or just hold your child while he or she rests.


Getting Some Fresh Air Can Be Good

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Some fresh air can also help your child to feel better. If the weather is mild, let your child sit on a chair on the front porch or in the backyard. When the weather is inclement, open up the curtains in your child's room. Natural sunlight can help to adjust your child's body rhythm and can provide a much-needed boost in your child's mood. If there is a room with a nice view of the outdoors, allow your child to rest there for a while.


Don’t Forget Play

Daily playtime is good for all kids, even those who are under the weather. Encourage your kids to play, even if only for the distraction from the symptoms of the illness. Dolls, blocks, and stuffed animals are all good choices. Your child could also do a puzzle or play a card or board game. Take it up a notch and play with your child. A good old fashioned game of Battleship or a germ-fighting herbal tea party with a crowd of dolls gives you some quality time. Let your child be your guide in how long you play and what to play.


Encourage Creativity

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You could also encourage your child to engage their creative skills while sick. While you do not need to overload your child with homework or heavy reading, a detective novel, crossword puzzle or drawing book can keep their minds busy. This mental workout can also help your child to explore ideas and strategies for focused thinking. Younger kids might enjoy painting, drawing or making shapes with air dry clay. You can sit next to your child and draw your own picture or make your own funny shapes out of dough.


Listen to Your Child and Trust Your Instincts

Listening to your child is important. You know your child best and if you suspect that a rattling cough or persistent congestion is something more than the common cold, do not hesitate in calling the pediatrician or family physician's office. Regularly ask your child how he or she is feeling. Kids over the age of 5 are usually good at explaining how much they hurt or what is bothering them the most. Tell your child to let you know if they need any comfort items, such as a blanket, more water or some quiet time for a nap. Make sure that your child can give you an honest update about his or her symptoms.


Care for Yourself as Well

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If your child has a more serious illness or one that takes a long time to go away, you may begin to feel tired and worn out from all of the hard work. You may also feel mentally weary. Try to rest and sleep when you can. If you have a partner, try to trade off so that you can get a break to shower, have a meal and recharge your own batteries. Taking a walk with the dog outside or even just running an errand to the store for fresh groceries can give you a much-needed change of scenery.

Give yourself a break and order some delivery for dinner instead of cooking. You might even be able to order groceries from your local store, so instead of spending time shopping you can relax at home while they bring your order right to your house for a small fee or even no fee with a minimum purchase. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Your friend or neighbor may be able to give you a break, especially if your child has been sick for an extended time. You will be able to take better care of your child when you are feeling good yourself.



Taking care of your sick child can be an overwhelming and tiring experience. Cut yourself some slack, take it easy and focus on helping your child to stay comfortable. These ten tips can help you to pass the time and may even help to shorten the duration of your child's illness.