girl asleep on book
1 / 11

Rest is Best

Rest helps you heal. And that’s a good reason to keep your child home when she’s not feeling well. It’s even more important if she has a fever. You’ll help prevent spreading the germs to other people.

If she’s not sleepy, she can rest while looking at books, magazines, or her favorite movie. The key is to limit activity. Once the fever passes and she feels more like herself again, it’s time to go back to school.

Swipe to advance
mom giving girl juice
2 / 11

Keep the Fluids Coming

Give your young child water, milk, or formula to keep her hydrated. If she's older, you can also give her frozen fruit bars, ice pops, and flavored gelatin. And don't forget about good ol' chicken soup.

Swipe to advance
girl with fever
3 / 11

Cold or Flu?

It can be tough to tell the difference. In general,your child will feel worse with the flu, and he may go from fine to lousy fast. He may be exhausted and have chills, muscle aches, a headache, and a high fever. If you think it’s the flu, call your doctor right away. There’s medication that can help if it’s taken within a day or two of symptoms starting.

 

Swipe to advance
girl with washcloth on forehead
4 / 11

Fever Relief

A fever is the body’s way of fighting an infection. But having one can make your child uncomfortable. If she has a fever, she’ll be more comfy in light clothing in a cool room. Put a cool washcloth on her forehead and neck, too.

She may not need medicine to bring down her fever, but she may be able to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your doctor before you give any medicine to a child younger than 2, and follow instructions carefully. Don't give ibuprofen to infants less than 6 months old.

Swipe to advance
father giving boy medicine
5 / 11

Kids and Cold Meds

For children under 4 years old, home remedies are the way to go for treating colds. Most cold medicines aren’t good for kids that young. After age 4, you should get your doctor’s OK and read the directions carefully. Don’t give your child medicine made for adults, aspirin, or more than one medicine with the same ingredients.

Swipe to advance
girl with humidifer
6 / 11

Clear Stuffy Noses

If your baby’s congested, get rid of the mucus with a rubber suction bulb. Put three drops of warm water or saline in each nostril to soften the mucus, and wait a minute before you suction it out.Raise thehead of your child’s crib or bed 3 to 4 inches to make it easier for her to breathe.

A cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can also help clear the stuffiness. And if her nose is red from too much blowing, put a little petroleum jelly on the skin beneath it

Swipe to advance
boy eating broth
7 / 11

Soothe a Sore Throat

Think hot and cold. Milkshakes, cold drinks, and ice chips numb the throat. Warm broth, tea, or hot apple cider soothe it.

If your child is 8 or older, gargling with warm salt water twice a day may help him feel better. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can ease pain, too.

Swipe to advance
girl drinking apple juice
8 / 11

Calm the Cough

Treat a cough or not? It depends on your child’s age and how much it’s bothering her. A hacking cough that’s uncomfortable and disrupts her sleep needs attention. For kids between 3 months and 1 year, give warm, clear liquids like apple juice, lemonade, or agave nectar.If your child is older than 1, honey can help fend off nighttime coughing fits. Children 6 years or older can suck on cough drops or hard candies, too. 

What else can help? Have your child breathe in the steam from a warm shower, or put a humidifier or vaporizer in her room.

Swipe to advance
apple sauce
9 / 11

Think Soft Foods

Don’t worry about "feeding a cold and starving a fever." Just make sure your child eats when he’s hungry. Soft foods that are easy to swallow are more appealing to a child who isn’t feeling well. Try applesauce, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, gelatin, and yogurt.

Swipe to advance
girl with icepop
10 / 11

Tummy Troubles

Kids who've got the flu sometimes have upset stomachs with vomiting or diarrhea. If this happens to your child, he’s losing fluids. So have him drink small amounts of an electrolyte solution or water and suck on ice pops. Ginger ale and other sodas, juices, and sports drinks can make diarrhea worse.

A child with diarrhea who isn’t dehydrated or vomiting can keep eating. Just give him smaller portions and more liquids.

Swipe to advance
worried mom calling doctor
11 / 11

Trust Your Gut

Talk to your doctor if you’re worried or if your child's symptoms are getting worse. Watch for chest or stomach pain, shortness of breath, a headache, unusual fatigue, or face or throat pain that gets worse. Let your doctor know if your child has a fever of 103 F or higher, or has had a fever of 101 F or higher for more than 72 hours. If she's having trouble swallowing, is coughing up a lot of mucus, or has swollen glands or an earache, you should take her to see a doctor.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/27/2017 Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 27, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

(1) Thinkstock
(2) WebMD
(3) Thinkstock
(4) Thinkstock
(5) Thinkstock
(6) Thinkstock
(7) WebMD
(8) WebMD
(9) Thinkstock
(10) Thinkstock
(11) Thinkstock


SOURCES:

CDC: “The Flu: Caring for Someone Sick at Home.”
FamilyDoctor.org: “Colds and the Flu – Treatment.”
Healthychildren.org: “Caring for a Child with a Viral Infection,” “Children and colds,” “Flu: A Guide for Parents of Children or Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions,” “Treating Vomiting.”
Kaiser Permanente: “Self Care for Kids: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers.”
Kidshealth.org: “Common Cold,” “Diarrhea,” “Infections: Common Cold,” “Is it a cold or the flu?,” “Tips for Treating the Flu.”
Rennard, B. American College of Chest Physicians, October, 2000
FDA: “Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) Information”
Seattle Children’s Hospital: “Should Your Child See a Doctor? Sore Throat”
St. Louis Children’s Hospital: “Coughs and Colds: Medicines or Home Remedies?”
UpToDate: “Patient Information: Fever in Children, Beyond the Basics.”

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 27, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.