Sick children stay at home. Are lovingly cared for. Today you can read about what is good for sick babies and children and helps them to recover in the long term:
The sickness season is approaching its peak. Almost every family around us has someone sick these days; in a family friend's home, four out of five people are in bed with colds. We also have a child with a stomach bug at home since yesterday. So today I'm writing to you directly from the child's bedside about what has worked for us for almost eight years now for mild childhood illnesses such as colds, gastrointestinal infections or ear infections:
1. Stay at home
Sick children stay at home and recover.
Clearly, sick children stay at home. There is no discussion and no ifs or buts about it. One hears again and again stories that some working parents stuff their sick children with medicine and send them to the kindergarten or school. I know the prere that working parents are under, and in my eyes it is a tragedy that our society can no longer afford sick children or. the immense prere put on the parents. But I say nevertheless: a ill child remains at home, Punktum. We have always managed to leave our children at home at the slightest sign of illness, i.e. at the slightest feeling of indisposition. Often one or two days of rest were enough, and the actual disease did not break out at all.
I would go so far as to say that anyone who cannot manage to stay at home in a relaxed way with a sick child should urgently think about organizing their life differently. To the necessity on work, income and certain things do without. Because this time has to be for your sake and for the sake of the children.
2. Time with parents
For sick children it is an unbelievable blessing if mummy or daddy is with them
The best, really the very best Medicine is time with parents. Babies should be left in your arms or in a sling as much as possible when they are sick, unless they are sleeping or nursing. Physical closeness and parental attention are the most precious things that can be given to children, and this is doubly true for sick children. If at all possible, I stay with or in the bed of the sick child during illness. Yesterday, on the first and most severe day of illness, I just laid in bed with it all day. The daughter had chosen the guest room as a sickbed, where there is a comfortable double bed. I was just there, we held hands, and I sometimes read a little from the new favorite book. I was surprised at how much my daughter told me, even if it was sometimes only incoherent snippets from her nighttime dreams. How often she would nod off a little in between, i.e. doze off with her eyes closed and dream! I then used these snooze hours to work. Neither the narratives, i.e. the results of her processing, nor the semi-conscious dozing would probably have happened if she had been alone and watching movies.
3. Eating and drinking: letting the child decide.
If the child wants to eat only a crispbread or a few apple slices a day: trust him! When it gets well, it will eat again.
It is an absolute old wives' tale and totally yesterday's news that sick children should eat a lot and eat vigorously. On the contrary, eating can be counterproductive when you are ill! Sick children know best what they need in terms of food. If a sick child does not want to eat, we should by no means push him to eat. Fasting is an extremely good medicine, also for children. It does no harm to a child to eat nothing or very little for a while. Our big daughter is extremely thin, and yet I would never force her to eat against her will when she is ill. Children, even thin ones, make up for everything when they recover; you can rely on that. However, if your child is feverish, you should make sure that he or she drinks enough.
One example: Our thin daughter, who, by the way, is hardly ever sick, had a real bout of flu last spring – it was by far her longest and worst illness so far. She lay in bed for several days with a high fever, sleeping or dozing, she was not capable of doing more than that. In the first days of the illness, she would eat NOTHING except a few apple slices, and would drink very little. Apart from the teaspoon of water with the dissolved globules, which she got every hour, she drank a maximum of one small glass of water per day. Well, she drinks extremely little in normal life, but here I was worried, because children with fever should drink a lot. However, I finally trusted my daughter after an encouraging call to our pediatrician's office and paid attention to her overall condition. Of course, we always offered drinking, and she accepted it when she needed it. When the quite serious illness was over after two weeks (and the child admittedly looked extremely thin…), she really ate like a glutton for ten days – several portions per meal, also at the snacks between meals. And this is how she gained back the lost weight very quickly.
If babies are still breastfed, they usually only need breast milk when they are sick. This need should be fulfilled if the baby asks for it. If the baby is already eating complementary food, he will accept it again after the illness. Mother's milk is undoubtedly the best medicine for a sick baby after parental closeness. This is because it is the most easily digested food for babies, and the level of immune cells in breast milk increases when the baby is sick. So breast milk is actually real medicine for the baby.
And don't worry about vomiting: Even if the baby spits out the milk again and again, there is still some left in the stomach. As long as the baby doesn't seem very floppy and the diapers still get wet, it will get enough nourishment and fluids even with repeated and persistent vomiting of seemingly large amounts. This is what both my midwife and the La Leche League lactation consultant ared me when I called worried that the baby was spitting out so much breast milk – it would die of thirst within a short time! But the knowledgeable helpers were able to reare me: Normally, breastfeeding as needed can be trusted to best heal and care for the child, even if a lot of spitting up is done.
When is medical advice appropriate?
However, if the baby becomes apathetic, if the diapers remain dry for more than half a day, if the fontanel looks sunken or if the skin becomes flabby, one should immediately consult a doctor or the hospital emergency department. If in doubt, always contact a lactation consultant or a doctor – the La Leche Liga lactation consultants provide free and extremely empathetic advice on all breastfeeding ies, also straightforward on the phone. Before you leave for the emergency room, you can also call there first. You can usually get a helpful assessment on the phone. I have done this several times when in doubt and saved myself the stressful and nerve-wracking nighttime trip with baby and sibling to the emergency department several times.
4. Good sensory impressions
A sensually pleasant environment works wonders
Pleasant sensory perceptions in the home environment are also valuable for healthy children, but they are doubly important for sick children. The sick child must be warm and soft, the air must be fresh, and it should smell pleasant.
Instead of electric light, it may also be a candle, which of course must be secured; out of reach of small children and of course in a non-combustible stand. These organic candles with a beeswax coating made from renewable raw materials from Hans Natur, for example, are beautiful. Bright light is counterproductive in case of illness. If you are uncomfortable with candlelight, you can turn on a small lamp in the back corner of the room or one of those magic lanterns. It is more pleasant than the ceiling light that illuminates the whole room.
One of the enchanting magic lanterns from Hans Natur
When we are sick, the child can choose where he or she wants to lie – in the family bed, on the sofa or, as is currently the case, in the guest room. The own bed in the children's room is not (yet) in demand for sleeping in everyday life. Therefore it does not matter if the child is ill. I remember that as a child I often lay on the sofa when I was sick. I found that very nice; my mom was puttering around in the kitchen and I was so close to her and she was within calling distance, even if she was busy.
The sick child gets extra thick pillows to sink into, the coziest down comforters and a hot water bottle if needed. We ventilate abundantly. Covering the child well in the process, of course. The coziest blankets are such down blankets from Hans Natur, which come in two sizes: For babies, z.B. also as a blanket in the stroller, and for children from ca. one and a half years.
You might be able to use a scent lamp or an aroma diffuser to give the room a good aroma. Eucalyptus and peppermint are suitable scents for colds, and peppermint for gastrointestinal problems; lavender is always good anyway.
As shown above, we arrange the "sickness bedside table" especially beautiful. In addition to the requested food and drink and ties, we have set up our beautiful felt figurines of Mary with baby Jesus and Joseph from the manger, waiting to be packed back into the Christmas box. Simply because the trio is such a beautiful symbol of parental care. A beautiful candle holder with a tea light provides pleasant light.
You can also ask older children if they would like a light massage or a gentle rub with a good-smelling oil, such as this baby and children's body oil made from pomegranate and sea buckthorn. Or: back scratching. Our children love back scratching before going to sleep. In the case of illness, this is also required in between.
5. Lots of rest, few media
Some believe that there is no other way than to let a sick child consume media such as movies, television and electronic games. This distracts so nicely and keeps the child wonderfully busy in the oh so boring sickbed.
But every illness is a sign that the child needs rest and time to process something. Especially gastrointestinal infections, colds and earaches, the most common children's illnesses, mean in a figurative sense: "I'm fed up", "I can't digest this anymore" and "I don't want to hear any more"."Our older daughter, for example, is quickly overwhelmed by stimuli and needs a lot of time and quiet at home, even in normal everyday life, to process the intense experiences from school and after-school care. Children also get sick when they need rest, not only because of viruses. In her current illness, the daughter tells all kinds of stories and observations from her daily school and after-school life, and she dreams extremely vividly. These are signs that she is processing and "digesting" things now, during her illness, after she has really "puked it up" for once. Media consumption means further, particularly strong stimuli and blocks the path that free thoughts and feelings would take when processing naturally in the dozy sick bed.
But even my children don't have to lie still in bed all day, especially not in the days of convalescence, i.e. the days when the actual symptoms of the illness have already disappeared, but the child is still weak. If the daughter asks for it now on the second day, she may listen to a quiet radio play or music, or she occupies herself with a sticker book. Movies are taboo for us when we are sick, as far as possible.
6. Let the child fever (up to a certain degree Celsius)
Fever does good! Fever is a helpful way for our body to fight the illness. It is a sign that the body is dealing with the disease: that it is fighting pathogens and that the immune system is working. Viruses and bacteria also have a harder time surviving at higher body temperatures. As long as the fever does not rise above 40°C, there is generally no reason for restlessness in infants. In babies under three months of age, however, a doctor should be consulted if the fever exceeds 38°C, and in older babies from about. 39 to 39.5°C. From 40°C onwards, children under two years of age should be closely observed and measured more frequently; for older children, 41°C is the pain threshold. If in doubt, it is better to seek medical advice a little earlier. Fever is not truly dangerous until around 42°C, but it is extremely rare for this to occur. If the child becomes apathetic, higher fever lasts for more than two days, or if there is a sudden deterioration, a doctor should be consulted, no matter what the specific temperature of the child is.
Home remedies for excessive fever in children are teas, washes and compresses. I don't want to go into more detail about these home remedies here, but I'm happy to link to this nice post describing various home remedies for fever and how to perform them.
Fever-reducing conventional medicines such as ibuprofen or paracetamol should be administered only if the temperature rises to the levels described above, if the doctor advises it, or if the child seems overly weak or apathetic. In any case, the dosage should not be higher than recommended by the doctor or the package instructions.
7. Take care
It is good for sick children to be cared for. Even if the child could well go to the toilet alone: Carry or support him if he asks you to, even if he is already ten years old. Help him when he tries to sit up. Fluff up your pillows when they are scrunched up. All this shows the child that you are there for him, and gives him the certainty that you will give him what he needs. Stuff the blanket tightly, feed him, sit by his bed for a long time, hold his hand!