How to Cheer Up a Sick Toddler

Spend some quality time together to help your little one fight off the cold and flu blues.

It’s cold and flu season, and the weather’s been unseasonably warm, which all adds up to one thing: your sick toddler.  My daughter’s at the tail-end of a battle with a respiratory virus, one we unfortunately passed all around our family… and back again. But during the past two weeks, I’ve been trying all kinds of things to get her to eat, relax, cheer up, go to sleep… Just about anything I can think of.

Because the toughest thing with having a sick toddler is communication.  They can’t tell you where it hurts or what they’re feeling. And you can’t explain to them why they feel so lousy or ask how to make them feel better. Basically, part of caring for a small child who feels under the weather involves the art of distraction.  Find a way to keep them occupied while they’re body fights off the illness and they’ll be feeling better before you know it!

So what can you do to keep your sick toddler happy?

Soothe The Symptoms

One of the best ways to keep your little one contented in the face of colds is by soothing their symptoms. Help them wipe a runny nose, break up chest congestion, or ease a sore throat with these great tips from Lil’ Duck Duck:

  • An herbal tea substitute. Warm up some apple juice and add a little lemon and honey. This makeshift sub-in for herbal tea tastes great and helps a sore throat.
  • Tub time treats. Run a nice warm bath and add some Johnson’s Vapobath or California Baby’s Colds & Flu Bubble Bath Aromatherapy. If your tot doesn’t like bath time, treat him to a new tub-time toy to keep him occupied.
  • Night-time steam. Running a humidifier in my daughter’s bed room at night and during nap time helps break up her congestion and ease her coughing while she snoozes.

Have Some Fun

When your little one is sick, she just wants your attention and love. Spending time together will help her feel comforted, so play together, read together, and just have some fun. Enjoy these 5 Fun Ways to Entertain a Sick Toddler or Preschooler when you need them…

  • Books and music.  Share story time together, reading a favorite book. Put on soothing music while you read. Or, if you’ve both got some energy to burn, have a “dance party” with fun music you both enjoy dancing to.
  • Friendly photos. My daughter enjoys scrolling through the photos of friends and family on my iPhone.  We sit together and she tells me all their names, an activity that takes at least twenty minutes of time away from feeling lousy.
  • Play simple games. Stack blocks, have a treasure hunt, or play a small-scale game of tag. Again, the dance party is also applicable in this category. Just sayin’.
  • Take a walk.  You know yourself that when you’re sick, sometimes fresh air is a good thing.  If it’s not raining, snowing, too windy, or too cold, get your jackets and take a short walk.  The fresh air can revitalize your little patient and it will do much for your patience, too.
  • Give a gift. Surprise your toddler with a fun new toy—nothing huge, just something she’ll be excited about. Or, if you’re on a budget, dig out one of those long-forgotten toys from the bottom of the toy bin. Play together and incorporate this new (or rediscovered) toy.

Get Cozy and Comfortable

My daughter just wanted to be comfortable and get better, so when she was low on energy, I tucked her in all snug and warm on the couch.  We sat together, reading or talking, watching her favorite TV show, or coloring with crayons. Think about what you like to do when you feel ill—probably about the same thing, right?  I enjoy warm fuzzy socks, a cup of tea, and a stack of new magazines to read.  So for my daughter, I set up a basket of her favorite things within reach so we didn’t have to travel too far.  Keeping her favorite activities, a cozy blanket, and her favorite pal Piglet with her did much to improve her mood. Try these other tips from Livestrong for more ideas.

I hope this tips will help you when it’s time to face the inevitable cold virus of the season.  Just remember that the best thing to comfort your little patient is YOU and you’ll be all set!


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