What To Do When Your Baby Gets Sick

It's hard not to feel helpless when your baby is sick.

sick baby frustrated mom. Jamie Grill/Getty Images

This morning, after battling sick kids for the last two weeks, I was left alone with all four of my feverish, miserable children. 

My husband, of course, had used up his last sick day for his job the day before when he was feeling under the weather, so as morning broke on yet another puking kid, it was just me against the world. (Or, at least, that's what it felt like.)

Of course, stay-at-home moms don't have the benefit of "sick days" to cash in when we are actually sick.

And in my experience, as the mother, I'm always the last to get sick in my house. It's like my body knows that it has to make sure all the kids are getting better before it will succumb to whatever virus and bacterium are running rampant in my body. 

Today, though, while two of the four were feeling better, the remaining two had just started their descent in the fires of stomach bug hell and I was dreading the day. Was it possible, I wondered, to simply avoid the stomach flu through sheer force of will alone?

I vowed, at least, to try. I will not get sick, I told myself. I will not get sick. 

Can you guess what happened next? 

Yup, that's right. The fever hit first, then exhaustion overtook my body, and at the precise moment that all three kids were puking, I wanted nothing more than to curl up in my bed and take a nap. I was shivering, freezing, and miserable. Of course, a nap wasn't an option for me, but I decided to try my best to get the baby to sleep, since she was cranky too.


I rocked her. 

I tried feeding her. 

I swaddled her. 

I walked her around the house. 

I rocked her again. 

I tried feeding her again. 

I changed her diaper. 

But still, she wouldn't stop screaming and screaming and screaming. I can't do this, I thought, tears pricking the corners of my eyes. Without anyone to call to help me and feeling myself come dangerously close to losing it, I decided to do the only thing I felt like I could manage at the moment--and put the baby in the crib for a few minutes so I could muster up my strength.


The truth is, we all have moments when we feel like we just can't go on as parents. It's normal, especially when you're sick. But if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, here are a few tips to help you make it through:

  • Inconsolable crying, like when a baby is sick, is the #1 trigger for Shaken Baby Syndrome. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, put the baby down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes. 
  • Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines to keeping your infant comfortable through a fever. Many times, the fever is the source of your baby feeling so miserable and managing it effectively can help. 
  • Let all the household chores go. Just focus on getting you and your baby healthy!
  • Encourage fluids. Even if your baby is breastfeeding, if she is over 6 months old, it may be appropriate to also offer her water in a bottle or sippy cup. And don't forget to keep hydrated yourself!
  • Call someone to help you if you can. Don't feel guilty for asking for help if you need it. Remember, it takes a village and sometimes, a kindly grandparent or neighbor will be more than willing to help you when you need it. 


    Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Guide For Health Departments and Community-Based Organizations. Accessed online March 17, 2015: http://www.cdc.gov/Concussion/pdf/Preventing_SBS_508-a.pdf. 

    Managing Fevers in Children Guidelines, American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed online March 17, 2015: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/3/580.full. 


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