Caring for a sick child can be confusing and exhausting for any parent. You may feel overwhelmed by their symptoms and choosing the most appropriate action to take. It can be difficult to know whether your child should attend school or childcare or whether they need to attend the doctor. Here are tips on ensuring you’re doing what is best for your child while also stopping the spread of any potential illnesses.
Caring for a Sick Child
When your child is sick, it is always best to listen to them. When your child begins to talk, they will be better able to communicate how they are feeling and what they need when they are unwell. If they are quite ill they may wish to stay in bed but in most situations they may feel more comfortable on the sofa or in another comfortable spot. A baby on the other hand, may prefer to be rocked or held in your arms. If your child is mildly ill, then keeping them comfortable is the best medicine. Some ways to ensure your child remains comfortable include:
- Keeping them hydrated with water
- Keeping their room well-ventilated and at a mild temperature
- Monitoring their temperature, preferably with a thermometer
- Encouraging them to get plenty of rest and sleep
- Providing time for quiet stories, company and games
It is important to note that you should never fall asleep with a sick baby or newborn on a sofa.
If you think your child is very ill you can contact your family GP or out-of-hours service. A doctor can advise you on how to care for your child or book you an appointment to discuss the issue further. Most GPs will prioritise appointments for sick babies and will offer expert advice and prescribe any urgent medications needed. If your GP isn’t available, you can also call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84), which is available 24 hours every day.
If your child has an infectious illness or you are advised by your GP or 13 HEALTH to isolate your child from other children and the rest of the home you should do this to prevent the spread of germs and sickness.
Managing Minor Accidents
Most children are very active and curious and will likely experience cuts, sprains and even objects stuck in the ear or nose. Your family GP is trained to help with these types of minor injuries and advise whether or not you should visit the emergency department. You can also call 13 HEALTH if your GP is unavailable or you don’t have one at the moment.
A Serious Health Issue
There are ways to differentiate between a minor health issue from a serious one. Whether it’s your GP, the emergency department or 13 HEALTH, there is always someone available. And if you’re not sure, then trust your instincts and seek medical help.
If your child has a fever (temperature above 38 °C) and one of these symptoms below, seek medical advice immediately:
- Less than three months old
- They aren’t interested in food for more than 24 hours
- Vomiting often
- Isn’t urinating as normal
- Pain or fever doesn’t improve after administering pain relief medication
If your child has a fever and one of these symptoms below call Triple Zero (000):
- Drowsy, hard or impossible to wake
- Blue, blotchy or pale skin
- Breathing difficulties
- First-time convulsion or fit
- A repeating convulsion or fit lasting more than 5 minutes
- A rash that doesn’t go away if you press on it
Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health to improve health outcomes of the region. You can always use HealthDirect’s Symptom Checker to find out more information before calling your GP. If it’s a minor illness, focus on comfort. If there is a severe issue, then seek medical attention as soon as possible. To find a doctor in your area, visit HealthDirect’s Find a Doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).