Any experienced mom or dad can tell you that little kids get sick a lot (and it’s not because you forgot to put socks on your little one’s feet, either!). Chances are, your cutie is coming down with one thing or another because she’s like every other baby and toddler — exploring her world by touching (or mouthing) everything she sees. All it takes is one wipe of the eyes or one finger in the nose, and any germs she’s touched get a free pass into her little body. And since her immune system is still developing, it hasn’t yet gotten adept at fending off those germs, so more often than not they end up causing infections. The good news is that all of these repeated exposures to germs (and the resulting childhood illnesses) build up your child’s immune system and make it stronger in the long run, which means your tot will be better equipped to fend off the next bug that comes her way.
Dealing with childhood illnesses, though, can take a toll on both you and your ailing angel. You hate seeing your child in pain (whether she’s coughing, feverish, stuffed up, itchy, or irritable), and you can turn into a walking zombie after struggling through the sleepless nights. So when your tot is under the weather, do all you can to make life a little easier. It’s okay to bend the rules a bit in order to soothe your sweetie when she’s sick, so don’t worry about sticking to your child’s schedule or making sure she eats her vegetables while she’s ill (you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to win that losing battle!). Let her have Popsicles for dinner if that alleviates her scratchy sore throat and let her nap in your bed if that calms her down (this isn’t the time to start those sleep training strategies). And put off any weaning plans or other big changes until after this tricky time. Once she’s recovered, you’ll be able to get her sleep habits and routine back on track.
Most important: Take your cues from your little one. Even an infant will let you know she’s too sick to do more than rest or whether she’s in the mood for the pureed pears she loves so much. If she’s only mildly ill (or on the road to recovery), don’t be surprised if she’s happy to keep up with her favorite activities (even when you feel like collapsing!). But no matter how she feels, remember that a dose of extra cuddles is the best medicine out there.
What else should you keep in mind when handling childhood illnesses? How to keep the rest of your household healthy. While there’s no way you can keep your laid-up little one isolated from you, your hubby, or her siblings, you can take a few measures to contain the germs:
- Make sure everyone washes their hands thoroughly and regularly — especially after diaper changes, after using the bathroom, and before eating. Washing germs down the sink means they won’t be passed around to infect someone else, so teach your tot some hand-washing basics.
- Try to separate your sick child’s toys and personal items from your other kids’ toys and stuff. The less cross-contamination the better.
- Keep the place tidy. As hard as it may be to find time to clean when you’ve got a sick tot on your watch, do your best to throw away used tissues and wipe down countertops and other surfaces as much as possible. This will help keep the germs in the house to a minimum.
One last thing to think about when childhood illnesses find their way into your home: They won’t last forever. With proper care and a little TLC, your tot will soon be back to her energetic, healthy self.