What you need to know

  • Give your child plenty of fluids while they are sick.
  • Caring for a sick child can be tiring and stressful, so remember to take care of yourself too. 
  • Never give aspirin to a child, because of the risk of a serious condition called Reyes Syndrome. 

Tips to care for your child at home

  • Give your child plenty of fluids (they may not be hungry). 
  • Allow extra rest. 
  • Provide extra cuddles. 
  • Wash your hands after caring for them and before preparing food so you don’t pass germs along to your whānau. 
  • Keep your child home from playgroup or preschool so other kids don’t get sick. 
  • Teach your child to wash and dry their hands well, and cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze by sneezing into their elbow.

Caring for yourself 

Caring for a sick child can be stressful, so remember to also take care of yourself. Ask your friends or whānau for help if you start to feel overwhelmed, or call PlunketLine for support. 

Here are some other tips that can help: 

  • rest when your child naps so you can catch up on some sleep too 
  • exercise or get some fresh air 
  • drink and eat well
  • try taking some calming breaths.

If you're concerned about your child, or they are getting sicker, call PlunketLine or see a doctor. 

When to visit a doctor 

Seek urgent help for a baby or a young child if you notice the following. 

They're having difficulty breathing

Seek help if:

  • they're finding it hard to breathe
  • they're breathing quickly
  • they're grunting when breathing
  • they have a bad cough or wheeze
  • they turn blue or stop breathing.

They aren’t responding to you 

Seek help if they're:

  • difficult to wake or unusually sleepy 
  • unusually floppy or limp 
  • pale or appear sick. 

They're crying 

Seek help if they:

  • cry or scream and you can’t settle or calm them 
  • have an unusual cry for an hour or more 
  • are in pain 
  • cry, grizzle, and pull or rub their ears 
  • have a runny ear. 

They are weeing less frequently

Seek help if they:

  • have no wet nappies for six hours during the day, or eight hours at night 
  • do wees less often (for a toilet-trained child). 

They're not eating and swallowing normally

Seek help if your child:

  • won’t eat or drink normally 
  • has trouble swallowing or can’t stop dribbling. 

They're vomiting 

Seek help if they:

  • have been vomiting for more than six hours 
  • have green vomit or vomit with blood in it 
  • have vomiting and diarrohea at the same time.

They have diarrohea 

Seek help if your child:

  • has several runny, dirty nappies in one or two hours 
  • has diarrohea that lasts longer than 24 hours 
  • has blood in their poo. 

They have an unusual temperature 

Seek help if your child feels too hot or too cold. 


Your doctor may prescribe medication for your child when they are sick. Always make sure to:

  • talk to the pharmacist when you buy the medicine to make sure it’s right for your child’s age, weight and illness 
  • read the label to check how much and how often to give your child medicine 
  • never give them another person’s medication 
  • finish the course of antibiotics that your child is prescribed, even if they are feeling better. It’s important to make sure the infection is gone.

Never give aspirin to a child. It’s not safe for children under 12 because of the risk of a serious condition called Reyes Syndrome. 

You can give pain relief to your child for pain if they're unwell. Talk to your pharmacist or call PlunketLine for advice on the right medication to use for your child and the health condition/illness.