Caring For An Ill Child

Children who are ill at home or in hospital don’t always feel well enough to read or play games. Story tapes are an ideal way to entertain your child while they recuperate. Keeping a sick child’s mind off their illness may actually help them to recuperate faster.

Parents of babies and children often worry about their children becoming ill and how to spot the tell tale signs of the more serious illnesses. When your child is in the bath or getting ready for bed it is a good idea to check for any swellings, marks or rashes which might indicate the onset of an illness.

If your child is ill in bed the following guidelines will help to keep them comfortable and safe:

1. Room – the child’s room should be well-ventilated and uncluttered. It needs to be airy but not draughty.

2. Blankets/Duvets – make sure that they are lightweight. The child’s temperature might fluctuate so it is better to have two thin covers to put on instead of one thick one as they can be put on the bed or removed as required.

3. Sheets – use cotton sheets as they are more comfortable for a child with a temperature. Change the sheets every day if possible. This will help the child to feel better.

4. Tissues – make sure that the child has a box of tissues within reach.

5. Vomiting – If the child is vomiting frequently make sure that they have a container within reach, next to the tissues. Protect pillows and top sheet with towels so that these can be easily changed if the child is sick. Disinfect the container after use.

6. Plastic mattress cover – Children who are ill are more likely to wet or soil their beds so protect with plastic mattress cover.

7. Potty – If the child is feeling very ill provide a potty so that they don’t have to trail to the toilet.

8. Hygiene – A daily bath or shower is important. If the child is too ill then give them a bed bath instead. Clean their teeth at least in the morning and evening and brush their hair. Keeping clean will make the child feel more comfortable.

9. Nails – Keep the child’s nails short and clean especially if they have a tendency to scratch any spots they might have.

10. Clothing – dress the child in cool cotton clothing which is comfortable and not too tight.

11. Drinks – drinks should be offered at frequent intervals to prevent dehydration. Don’t wait for the child to ask for a drink. Any fluid can be offered to encourage the child to drink, e.g. fresh fruit juices (except if a child has mumps as the acid causes pain to the parotid glands), milk, light soup, milk shake, whatever drink they usually enjoy. Try to vary the drinks as much as possible. Use anything which might make the drinks more interesting such as coloured straws. Offer small quantities at a time.

12. Food – Offer food but never force a sick child to eat. (Follow the doctor’s advice about children with sickness and diarrhoea – they may be kept on ‘fluids only’ for a while). Allow children to choose their favourite food. Give them smaller but more frequent meals. If the child has a sore throat they might prefer some ice-cream or yoghurt. Foods like soups, milky puddings and ice-cream might be easier for sick children to eat and digest. Always supervise children who are ill whilst they are eating.

Always seek professional help if you are worried about your child.