What YOU can do:
- If the illness is serious, find your child a doctor, and a good one (See more about how to find the best doctors in the next section).
- If a cough is keeping your kids (and you) awake at night, put some Vicks VapoRub on the soles of their feet, and cover in a pair of thick, secure socks. In 15-20 minutes the coughing should stop, and the Zzz’s can begin. (Here’s a list of 12 beneficial ways to use VapoRub)
- Lollipops and lozenges: if your child has a sore throat, a steady supply of throat lozenges and sweets can provide relief and distraction. (From Kidspot)
- Liquids! Make sure your child is hydrated, and don’t stop encouraging him/her to drink cool water. If your infant is below 8 months old, make sure that they don’t consume too much water, as their kidneys aren’t ready yet. Breast milk or formula is optimal at this stage. (From WebMD)
- Rest! This should come as no surprise: your sick child needs long night sleeps, and frequent naps. Avoid over-stimulation, especially if it involves activities with other kids and potential germ-spreading. (From WebMD)
- Warm baths and humidifiers: a lukewarm bath can help bring down a fever, and the steam from a bath and/or humidifier will help ease congestion.
- Extend TV time. No one wants a couch potato for a child, but when your kids are sick, extra time on the couch with television or video games will keep them distracted, and ensure they get some rest. (Here’s more sick-child advice, straight from moms)
- Have a tea party! Tea is soothing for both you and your child, and can help with a variety of symptoms. (Here’s more about different teas and herbal remedies for different illnesses)
- If you’re dealing with a fever, make sure you have a good thermometer and track his/her temperature frequently. Here’s what two doctors have to say about diagnosing and caring for your feverish child.
When to get help:
- The most important thing about caring for a sick baby or child: knowing when to go see a doctor. Often some extra rest and child-friendly painkillers will do the trick, but not always, and it’s important for you to consult a professional if symptoms escalate. Here’s what doctors have to say about when your child should see a doctor (and here’s the version for babies).
- Learn about your doctor before trusting them with your child. Malpractice, wrong diagnoses, doctor ignorance and poor medical care are on the rise in South Africa, and it’s important that you research a medical professional to make sure “professional” isn’t just a word on their name-tag (see CityPress on rising malpractice rates). It’s important to make an educated decision about who to trust with your child’s health.
- RecoMed is one free resource that can help you find the best doctor. With RecoMed, you can search for doctors or dentists in your area, read about their qualifications, services offered, and even reviews from other patients. Make an informed decision: find out which paediatricians are amazing with kids, and which ones don’t have that personal touch. You can also book appointments online in just a few clicks, saving hassle and airtime, and leave your own reviews to help inform other patients. Best of all, it’s 100% free for patients. And if you know an incredible medical professional that isn’t listed on the site, let RecoMed know, so they can try to get your doctor on the network! Get well soon!