Cold and Flu Season: Caring for a Sick Toddler

This year cold and flu season has been extra tough, especially for littles! Even though we’re reaching the tail end, viruses seem to still be making their way in. After rounds of doctor appointments for our toddler and one short hospital stay, I feel like I’ve started to learn what is best to keep on hand for those sick days.

1. Hydration

At the first sign of sickness, I try to up our childs fluid intake slightly. When ears hurt, throats are sore, or noses are congested, drinking tends to slow down a bit. By getting a head start, we hope to ward off any issues with dehydration. Try water, Gatorade, Pedialyte, and even popsicles (Pedialyte makes some!) if a little extra encouragement is needed.

2. Rest

When we get sick, we know to take things easy. A toddler, however, finds newfound freedom in the change of pace or schedule, and often wants to play just as hard as normal! Warm blankets, sipping on a mug of soup, board games, maybe even an extra movie or tablet time, can help to encourage rest. Perhaps even take a nap together! Parents need extra rest during this time, too, as we both know nights get a little rough with runny noses and coughs.

For a precaution, lay down a waterproof pad on the couch or bed to protect from any accidents that may occur. Hopefully any spills are just a water bottle or soup, but sometimes being a parent is a gross job, and a waterproof pad may make things just a little easier to clean up.

3. Cool Mist Humidifier and Vaporizers

Keeping a humidifier in our toddler’s bedroom is one of the first things we do when we start to think our daughter may be getting sick. Not only does the humidity in the room help, but we also have the option of adding child-safe essential oils to help soothe and relax. If your humidifier does not have this option, a small wall plug in, like this one from Vicks, could provide a safe option.

4. For the Runny Noses

Boogie wipes are a lifesaver for sore, runny noses. The soft, saline wipes are thick and more hydrating than plain Kleenex. On the topic of saline, nasal drops or spray help break up excess mucus to make it easier to either blow their nose or for use of a nasal aspirator. As difficult as it was to use the first time (gag!), our favorite aspirator is the Nose Frida for both effectiveness and ease of cleaning.

5. Products to Keep on Hand

There are a few other products we keep on hand to help ease symptoms, if needed. Midnight runs are no fun!

  • Tylenol and Motrin: In case a fever reducer is needed or there is increased pain/irritability, these are essential. We try and limit use, and only use under direction of our pediatrician, but we never want to be without! 
  • Honey: To soothe sore throats and coughs, use a spoonful of honey (if over age of 1) first. Products like those Zarbee’s makes are also handy, as they have a version with and without honey, plus vitamin C, elderberry, and thyme.
  • Chest Rub: Either Vick’s baby or Zarbee’s, are also great to rub on your toddlers back, chest, and bottoms of feet to help soothe.
  • Epsom Salts: Warm epsom salt baths are another favorite, with the option to add essential oils, also help soothe and relax sore muscles, runny noses, and any other symptoms.

Other Tips!

  • A thermometer is essential to keep an eye on fevers and when they may need to be seen or treated. A temporal scanner is quick and less of a risk to wake a sleeping child!
  • Another handy addition is a wedge to put under the mattress, to keep them propped up. Pillows also work, but if you are uncomfortable with your toddler having pillows still, a few blocks underneath the head of the bed or crib would help as well.
  • Keep stocked up on coffee and cold medications for yourself, just in case.
  • Keep your pediatricians number handy for any questions!
Do you have any other tips or products you would suggest for caring for a sick kiddo?

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