Caring for a sick child
Parents can take a number of steps to help children who are sick with a cold or influenza.
- Children need to rest when they are sick. Encourage them to stay in bed.
- Give them plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Treat fevers with acetaminophen (Tylenol® and Panadol®). But do not give your child aspirin because it has been associated with Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious illness.
- To prevent spreading the illness to others, wash your hands after being with the sick child.
Call your child's physician for advice when:
- Your child shows signs of dehydration. When a child is dehydrated, the child produces no tears when crying, has a very dry mouth and lips and produces little or no urine. Infants, especially, can become dehydrated very quickly. Keep a close eye on infants and call a doctor right away if you see signs of dehydration.
Choose a diet carefully when your child is ill
Parents must carefully choose a child's diet to control nausea and diarrhea.
You may want to ask your child's physician to suggest a diet while your child is ill. Generally, for a child more than 12 months of age, you may use the following guide:
Begin with clear liquids:
- Weak tea
- Fat-free broth or bouillon (made with powder or cube)
- Flavored gelatin dessert with nothing added
If the child tolerates clear liquids, add these foods:
- Ripe banana or strained banana
- Cooked refined cereal with no sugar (cream of wheat or cream of rice)
- Soda crackers or dry white toast with no butter (a small amount of jelly may be used)
- Fat-free (uncreamed) cottage cheese
- Low-fat milk
If the vomiting and diarrhea seem to be controlled, in a day or two you may add:
- Lean meats without gravy
- Eggs, not fried
- Mashed potatoes
- Cooked vegetables
- Canned fruit (peach, apricot or pear).
- Plain pudding
Avoid all other foods, especially dairy products, until all of the symptoms are gone.