When You And A Kid Are Sick

I’m going to state the obvious: Being sick sucks.

In my case, I’ve been dealing with an occasional fever, extremely stuffed-up nose, insane pressure in my sinuses, a body-wracking cough, and absolutely zero energy.  I can safely say that — minus the cough — my 2-year-old has been experiencing the same thing.

But here’s the catch with kids: When they’re young, like mine are, they can’t tell you what’s wrong. At no point has my son come up and said “Mother dearest, my nose is running and I need help.” Instead, he just looks miserable and when something happens that he doesn’t care for — say, a small stream of snot starts creeping out of his nose — he looks at me and wails “Aaugh!” while waving his hands up and down like a teenage girl who just saw a giant spider.

Being a mom is SUCH a glamorous job sometimes.

By Tuesday, I at least got him to say “Nobse” and point to his nose when he wanted me to wipe it for him. (Also, he doesn’t like boogers/snot on his hands. So when he’d swipe at his nose and get some on there? Cue the teenage-girl shrieking and wiping his hands on EVERYTHING — including me — to get it off. One bonus to my head being so stuffed up was that my ears were also plugged up, otherwise my eardrums would have shattered.)

Here’s the best part: Doctors tell you NOT to give cold medication to children under the age of 4, because it isn’t proven do anything. So there’s no medical help for you. So what do you do when your kid gets sick? Naturally, I’ve got a list of things you’ll need:

  1. Baby Tylenol or Motrin. Check with your doctor for the correct dosage. To be used to bring down the fever or if you think they have body aches;
  2. Thermometer (duh);
  3. Nasal aspirator. Keep the one they give you at the hospital, it works the best BY FAR. The ones they sell in the store aren’t worth the crappy plastic they’re made from;
  4. Sterile saline solution — I love this stuff — I prefer the drop version (tip bottle for drops, squeeze for a spray) but I’ve also seen a mist version. No clue how well that one works);
  5. A metric ton of facial tissue;
  6. Q-tips;
  7. Aquaphor or Vaseline (something I’d hope you had already)
  8. Something your kid likes to drink, such as diluted juice, water, Pedialite or diluted Gatorade if you think they’re dehydrated;
  9. A new toy. Seriously. They deserve it;
  10. A favorite video or two; and
  11. Patience. Lots of it.

That’s really all you can use to make them more comfortable. Depressing, isn’t it?

According to my doctor, since the boy had a fever, he likely had a virus. The standard procedure is: Tylenol or Motrin for fever reduction, and keep them comfortable.

As for day care, they need to stay home until they can “resume normal activities” with the provider.

So how do the above items help?

Here’s a standard morning with a sick kid:

  • For the love of all that’s holy, let the kid sleep in. They need sleep. Sleep heals.
  • Offer lots of fluids, keeping them hydrated helps flush the system of toxins and thins out the mucous.
  • When you change their diaper in the morning, do the following: aspirate each nostril ONCE, drop about 2-3 drops of saline solution in the nostril, gently massage the nose, and sit them upright. Dab away the saline that runs out of their nose. In about 3-5 minutes, you should get lots of goop coming out of their noses. (The saline helps loosen stuff up in there.) Wipe it away and if you feel its necessary, use the aspirator again. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT over-aspirate. Know why? If you over-do it, you create more snot. However, you can use the saline till the cows come home.
  • I limit aspirating to 3x a day. But I use saline at every diaper change. The trick? After putting the saline up the nose, take one end of a Q-tip and gently make circles with it in each nostril. (Not too far! At most, only the cotton head should be in there.) This will help clear out the big globs. (Be prepared.)
  • Coax them into eating. If that means your kid has pancakes with syrup with every meal? Then they have pancakes with every meal. My kid didn’t eat dinner for two days straight. Didn’t want anything. He’d munch on a a few apple slices during the day, ate one granola bar, maybe eat a few cookies, a few hunks of string cheese, and took about three bites of his peanut butter and honey sandwich, but he’d scarf down a banana and pancakes. Yesterday I treated him to french fries. BECAUSE I KNEW HE’D EAT THEM.
  • With all the nose wiping you’ll be doing, even if you’re gentle, the area under their noses will get raw. When you notice this, start putting on a light layer of Aquaphor or vaseline. It’ll help clear it up and protect the skin. (I also use this for chapped lips and to prevent diaper rash — if you see red skin, slather some on. Within the next two diaper changes, the redness will be gone.)
  • Tylenol/Motrin is once every 4-6 hours, if needed.

As for you — hopefully your child will nap longer and more often than usual. The boy fell asleep on me twice while we were cuddling and watching one of his favorite videos.  He also took a nearly 3-hour nap. If you’re sick, take the advantage and nap too. Keep yourself hydrated, and if you’re stuffy, don’t waste your time with any OTC medications that you don’t have to go to the pharmacy for. (I’m looking at you, DayQuil. Get your act together and get behind the pharmacy counter, cause you used to be bomb.)

Also, if you’ve got two nubbins running around, send the healthy one to day care to limit their exposure to the sickness going around. And if possible, try to keep them from loving on each other too much.

Also, go to sleep early. My hubby has been fantastic this week, sending me to bed after the kids are down because “You look like a freaking zombie. Don’t be a hero, don’t clean up. Just eat something and go to sleep.”


(This post was possible thanks to the supreme awesomeness of my hubby and the wonderful makers of Mucinex-D, Robitussin cough syrup, cough drops, and Advil. No, they aren’t sponsors, that’s my personal cold cocktail.)


3 comments on “When You And A Kid Are Sick

  1. Erin says:

    Somehow you are like an encyclopedia on drugs. I shall remember this.

    • Erin says:

      And I don’t mean that you are like a drugged-out book. I mean your knowledge of drugstore and behind-the-counter drugs is encylopedic. Which is probably spelled wrong. Goodbye.

  2. hehehe. Thanks Erin. My knowledge is mostly first-hand experience. DayQuil used to be awesome, then they took out the decongestant to stay out on the shelves instead of having to go behind the counter. (Marketing reasons? Maybe they think sick people are lazy?) Now the stuff isn’t worth beans. Does me no good whatsoever.

    Mucinex on the other hand … it is my very good, very strong friend.

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