A sick baby is no fun. No parent wants to see their child hurting — I’m sure we all would do anything in our power to take their pain away and make them all better! Unfortunately, “bugs” are a part of life, and how babies and young children build their immune system.
But what do you DO all day when you have a sick baby? Sometimes babies act well, despite having a fever or other symptoms of a virus, but many times they just aren’t quite their usual cheerful self. Either way, you’re likely going to be stuck in the house until symptoms subside. How do you comfort a sick baby and keep them entertained at the same time?
Now that AB is walking, she is really getting into everything: cabinets, under tables, on the floor, dusty corners — you name it. At thirteen months, she’s on the cusp of toddlerhood, but she’s still a teething baby and any new discovery goes right in the mouth for closer inspection. So it comes as no surprise that she’s had a couple sick spells lately.
For us it usually starts with a sniffle, and then we notice she’s warm to the touch. A quick temperature reading confirms our suspicion: she’s coming down with something. I know that there’s nothing to be done for a virus except make your baby comfortable and let things run their course, but I always check in with the doctor first, just to make sure that we’re not missing any signs of something more serious. (We are fortunate to have a close friend who is a pediatric doctor, and she graciously answers my texts at all hours.)
So you’ve been in touch with your pediatrician and been instructed to “keep her comfortable” and “keep an eye on her.” Now what? So much for that trip to the park, or the grocery store — you don’t want to be that mom spreading the germs around, plus your baby might not be up for that much activity. Here are a few of my tricks for making the time pass a little easier with a sick baby, and helping them feel a little bit better.
1. Baby Them
AB is at a stage where she’s super independent and wants to do everything by herself. I think if she could fully talk it would go something like this: “Come on Mooomm, AB ain’t got time for cuddles! There’s too much playing and exploring to do!” (Yes, I will be passing along my West Virginia accent to my baby.)
So I know she’s not feeling well when she comes over and lays down in my lap. Enjoy these precious moments while your baby still wants to “be a baby!” Give them all the hugs and kisses they could ever want or need — get them in while you can! I remember that when I was sick growing up, nothing was better than a little extra love from Mom, and your baby probably feels the same way.
2. Feed Them Cookies
Sometimes babies lose their appetite when they’re under the weather, or they don’t eat quite as much as normal. So when AB pointed at a container of homemade butter cookies and said “Oooohh,” I indulged her. She had refused two nursing sessions, so I was happy that she was expressing interest in eating anything! To make sure she didn’t get dehydrated I offered some water and she readily gulped from my glass (no sippy cups here — she’s a “big girl,” remember!) I’m not a fan of feeding sugar to babies and toddlers, but sometimes when they’re sick and not eating or sleeping well anyways, you do what it takes to get a smile and something in their belly.
3. Let Them Watch TV
This is probably starting to sound like a list of what not to do with your baby, but again, guilty pleasures every once in a while won’t hurt. When she’s sick, AB is absolutely content to just sit on my lap, nibble on a snack, and watch her favorite baby TV programs. I think it takes her mind off how crappy she feels. So if it gives your child a bit of relief, why not?
4. Take a Bath, or Two, or Three
AB LOVES bath time, sick or not! A bath is always cause for wiggles, claps, squeals of glee and shouts of “baahh!” (AB-speak for “bath.”) Even if she’s fighting a nasty bug, a bath works wonders to brighten her spirits and entertain her for as long as my knees can take sitting on the mat beside the tub!
As a bonus, baths are excellent for relieving sinus congestion and helping to bring down a fever (if you use lukewarm water), so they can physically make a baby feel better too. When AB was very sick this past winter, there were a couple nights where we gave her multiple baths to keep her happy and relieve some of her discomfort. Thank goodness for her Angelcare Bath Seat which allowed her to relax and recline (plus it dries off super quickly!)
We co-slept for the first three weeks of AB’s life because after a rough labor and eventual C-section, I couldn’t lift her in and out of the crib. As soon as I was physically able to do so, however, I moved her over — she’s a bed-hog and I wanted my bed back!
I think AB is like me: she likes to stretch out and have her own “space” when she sleeps. When she’s sick, it’s another story. There have been a couple nights when she just won’t settle on her own, but if we let her snuggle in our bed we all can get some sleep together. It hasn’t created any “bad” habits, but it has let us all get some much-needed rest.
No matter how vigilant your are about keeping the floors clean and washing hands, it’s inevitable that babies will get sick. Sometimes all you can do is just try to keep them as content and comfortable as possible — even if it means breaking a few rules 😉
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