Sick day activities for toddlers

Usually, when toddlers are sick, they spend most of their time resting, not bouncing off the walls waiting for their parents to entertain them. But there are still inevitably moments during those sick days, in between all the down-time that Baby spends sleeping and recovering from their illness, when they are bored and in need of some entertainment. Most sick toddlers don’t spend all their recovery time sleeping, which leaves parents with the task of finding low-key ways to keep under-the-weather toddlers entertained but not over-extended.

Keeping Baby healthy

Helping Baby get better is definitely the priority right now, so no matter how much fun you two end up having when they&;s homesick, it’s important not to forget any of the following.

  • Fluids: It’s important to keep Baby hydrated when they are sick, and some illnesses like fevers and diarrhea make the body lose water, so it’s up to you to to keep giving them lots of fluids throughout the day.
  • Mandatory naps: You might not think of napping as an activity, but it definitely is on a sick day! Even if Baby can’t stay in bed all day, there should still be periods of time in the day when they have to be in bed. If Baby can’t sleep during these naptimes, they can read a book or play with Play-Doh without leaving their bed.
  • Fresh air: Depending on the season and where you sleep, some fresh air could do Baby good. As long as they are not sick from allergies, and is well-dressed for the weather, being outside for a little bit isn’t going to hurt them, so feel free to take Baby on a little walk or play outside with them. Just make sure that if you go anywhere, Baby is comfortable and has the energy, and don’t bring a sick Baby near other children or adults.

Keeping Baby comfortable

While Baby is under the weather, the more physically comfortable they are, the better they&;ll feel as they play whatever you have on the entertainment menu.

  • Fuzzy pajamas: Let Baby pick out their favorite, most cozy pajamas to wear all day.
  • Pillow pile: See if Baby wants to help you make a big pile of pillows and blankets – or even a pillow-and-blanket nest! – that the two of you can rest on together.
  • Blanket forts to relax: More architecturally-savvy parents might opt out of the pillow pile route, and choose to help their toddler make a sturdy blanket fort that they can hunker down in for the rest of the day. Blanket forts and pillow piles are really just ways to make the sick day a little more special for Baby, while encouraging them to relax and rest.

Entertaining a sick toddler

Your toddler’s energy levels really depend on how sick they are, so gauge the situation when it comes up. If Baby does require entertainment, here are some sick day-friendly options.

  • Stories and reading in bed: This keeps Baby entertained while encouraging rest – and who knows, it could easily transition into nap time without any fuss.
  • Coloring book: It might be a good idea to have a few of these on hand for sick days. Crayons are great for coloring in bed because a stray mark won’t get on the sheets (or Baby‘s face).
  • Apps on your phone or tablet: Some families keep toddlers away from technology at this age, and if that’s your family’s policy, there’s certainly no reason to change that, but if toddler-friendly games are already a part of Baby‘s life, sick days can be a great time to break them out.
  • Cartoons or movies: For many families, cartoons and children’s movies are a staple for at least a portion of their toddler’s sick day entertainment. When they’re sick, a lot of toddlers just want to rest, so there’s nothing wrong with putting some cartoons on and letting Baby zone out a little.
  • Baking together: As long as Baby doesn’t have the stomach flu, baking together could be a fun and calm, indoor activity with a delicious end result.

Sick toddlers and tantrums

Your toddler might be a little more likely to throw a tantrum when they are sick. If this happens, just try to put yourself in their shoes. Being sick can be a confusing experience for toddlers. They aren’t sure why they’re feeling poorly, and it can be frustrating. It’s fine to give Baby a little leeway if they start to act out, but you also get to remind them that that kind of behavior isn’t okay even if they are sick.

You won’t be doing yourself or Baby any favors if you’re too exhausted or overwhelmed to adequately take care of the two of you, so make sure to take care of yourself on these days, too! This means resting when you need it, and reminding yourself when things get overwhelming that you’ve just got to ride some sicknesses out. In time, Baby will feel better and the two of you will go back to life as normal.

  • “Dehydration.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, 2017. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jan 24 2017. Web.
  • “Fussy or irritable child.” MedlinePlus. US National Library of Medicine, HHS, NIH, Mar 2017. Web.
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