Help! Feels like we are always sick! Lets chat to paeds nurse Penny.
I don’t know about you, but we have been relentlessly sick the last few months. It feels like a theme park ride we haven’t been able to get off - maybe I’m being dramatic but from the sounds of it - I'm not the only one.
So I reached out to you our Mama's of WI Mama League - to find out what you are facing right now with your kids, so that we can get some practical advice on what we can do to jump on off this ride!
Then I reached out to the beautiful Penny from Sick Happens, to get some insights on how we can support our little ones through this season. Penny has been a registered paediatric nurse for 15 years, and is a Mama to 2 precious boys!
These are your questions...
My kids keep coming home from daycare sick. Will their immune system pick up? What can I do to support them?
Yes. Their immune system will eventually pick up. But those first 12 - 24 months really are like a freight train catching every sickness under the sun. It’s super common for kids to get sick lots when they first start daycare, as they are being exposed to lots of new germs that their immune system has never been in contact with before. Throw in the fact that kids are in close contact with one another and they don’t really understand the principles of infection control, and you’re diving head first into never-ending sick days with kids.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Every child will respond differently to each illness, and you’re not completely helpless as parents.
I always say to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Focusing on the basics is the best way to prepare:
- Prioritise sleep (I know, I know. So much easier said than done.) However, you only need to provide the sleep environment and encourage them to sleep, not turn into a magician.
- Keep them hydrated
- Give them lots of outdoor play. The combo of vitamin D and outdoor microbes are brilliant for immune building.
- Eat as varied a diet as possible. Like sleep, all you can do is provide them with the opportunity
- Focus on de-stressing as much as possible (yep, even kids get stressed)
- Keep breastfeeding, if you can or choose too.
Multivitamins for kids. Money waster?
Multivitamins and other supplements certainly have their place, but they are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Especially for kids.
Most children will obtain their recommended vitamin and mineral intake from their diet.
In most situations the first recommendation is generally to focus on foods, but there are certainly times where a supplement is needed. However this is specific to each individual child and their health needs which is why it is recommended to always discuss this with your doctor or Paediatric Dietitian or Nutritionist.
At what temperature is it considered a fever? And when should Panadol and Nurofen be administered?
A fever is 38ºC or higher regardless of their age.
Pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are fantastic at relieving pain and discomfort associated with fever, sickness and injury.
The goal of fever management is not necessarily to lower the “number", because fever is a natural response to fighting infection. A raised internal body temperature is a normal response that shows that the body is doing EXACTLY what it is supposed to.
Your goals of fever management is to provide comfort, avoid dehydration and assess for concerning symptoms of sickness such as breathing difficulties, rashes, dehydration, behaviour changes, and pain.
How can I tell the difference between a standard viral rash and something more sinister?
Oh rashes. There are so many! But, want to know a secret? Because there are so many, and they can all look slightly different, even the most experienced healthcare professionals can be unsure what is causing the rash.
This is why I always tell parents to assess for concerning symptoms, rather than trying to diagnose the cause of the illness.
Take rashes for example, I like to simplify rashes into two groups:
- Non-disappearing rashes
- Disappearing rashes
When you see a rash, press on it with your finger for a few seconds. When you take your finger off, does the rash temporarily disappear? If yes, this is a disappearing rash, and it’s “better” than one that does not disappear.
Rashes that DO NOT disappear need immediate medical attention (aka an Emergency visit), as we want that rash assessed quickly in case it is caused by something like meningococcal. Time is not on your side here, and they need quick intervention.
All other rashes that DO disappear are not as time critical, and then it’s time for you to go clue hunting to work out if your child needs medical attention or not.
Trying to get a kids temperature is so hard, should we be going off the laser on the head or the stick under the arm?
I always advise parents to avoid the forehead thermometers. They are the most unreliable of all of them, especially if your child has a fever (kinda pointless, right?).
My recommendation would be to use the underarm ones as long as possible because they are super reliable and the cheapest.
If you have a squirmy child that hates it, you can opt for an in-the-ear one, as this is also a super reliable way to take a temperature — as long as they are over 6 months of age
Other ways to help take the temperature on kids is to swaddle them, and cuddle them in tight — even the big kids. A nice firm cuddle helps keep the underarm thermometer in place.
I feel like I am constantly doubting myself when my kids are sick. Is there anything you could recommend to help grow my confidence?
Learn as much as you can about what’s normal, and what’s not when it comes to sicknesses in kids. Part of being a parent is caring for sick kids (and getting sick yourself), but you don’t have to parent in fear or second guess yourself constantly.
This is the whole reason why I started Sick Happens: to give parents the skills to be able to navigate their way through inevitable sickness with confidence. Parents don’t have to transform into Doctors when they give birth, all they have to do is know when to get help.
Because raising kids needs a village: and healthcare professionals are part of this modern day village. You do not have to shoulder all of the pressure yourself!
I have ample free content on my instagram page and also on my website to help kickstart your learning journey. I also have lots of downloadable eGuides, a self-paced online course and one to one VIP Education sessions. All you have to do is decide which way you would like to learn. To learn more, you can find me on Insta @sick.happens or the web www.sickhappens.com.au or get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Penny! Make sure you jump over and check out her incredible resources to equip yourself Mama (and make sure you join the WIMamaLeague too you could get your burning questions answered too!)
You are amazing, and YOU are the best mama to your little one. Have confidence in yourself, you’ve got this.