If your child is ill, the most important thing to do is to listen to them. If they say they don’t need to be in bed, they probably don’t. They might feel better on the sofa with a blanket or doona.

Whether they’re in bed or on the couch, the following will help them feel more comfortable.

Keep the room well ventilated. If the room is too warm they’ll probably feel worse.

Give your child plenty to drink. For the first day or so don’t bother about food unless they want it. After that start trying to tempt them with bits of food and encouraging them to have nutritious drinks like milk.

Try to give your child time for quiet games, stories, company and comfort.

Sick children get very tired and need plenty of rest. Encourage your child to doze off when they need to, perhaps with a story read by you or as an audio book.

Never fall asleep with a sick baby on the sofa with you, even if you’re both exhausted. This increases the chances of cot death.

Looking after a sick child, even for a couple of days, is exhausting. Make things as easy for yourself as you can. Get rest and sleep when you can, and try to get somebody else to take over every now and then to give you a break.

You may also want to take advantage of services like online delivery from supermarkets if you are unable to get out of the house.

Getting expert help

If you think your child is ill, contact your local doctor or out-of-hours service. Your doctor can give you advice on how to treat your child’s illness and prescribe medicines.

Most doctors are very supportive towards parents of small children. Many will fit babies in without an appointment or see them at the beginning of surgery hours and will also give advice over the phone.

If your child has signs of a serious illness or you are concerned, contact your doctor or take them straight to the emergency department of your local hospital.

You can also call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for medical advice, 24 hours a day.

Dealing with minor accidents

Most doctors surgeries are equipped to deal with minor casualties, such as cuts or items trapped in the nose or ear. In this situation, ask your doctor or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for advice on where to go before you go to an emergency department.

Source: NHS Choices, UK (Looking after a sick child)

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