Reduce Your Child’s Risk

Babies and small children learn through exploring their world and interacting with others. Unfortunately, there are germs and hazards that can make your child ill. Avoiding toxins and establishing healthy habits early on will help your child resist sickness.

  • Breastfeed your baby if possible, for as long as possible. Your body creates antibodies that help your child fight infections.
  • Ensure your child gets enough sleep. Infants may sleep 14-16 hours and most children under 5 will sleep 11 hours over the course of a 24 hour period.
  • Wash hands frequently, especially before eating. Help your child learn to wash with soap and water and dry thoroughly.
  • Drink water and eat fruits and vegetables to give you child’s immune system the fuel it needs.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke and environmental hazards that affect breathing.
When Your Child is Ill

Fevers are a sign that your child’s body is fighting infection. Most last 2-3 days. Your child’s normal temperature should be around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. A rectal thermometer is most accurate. If your child is running a mild fever:

  • Keep your child hydrated with extra fluids, like drinks and popsicles.
  • Remove excess layers.
  • Use a fan to keep your child’s room cool.
  • Give your child a lukewarm bath.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about giving a fever reducing medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. DO NOT give aspirin to your child.

Call the doctor if…

Age Temperature
Less than 2 months 100.2 F or higher
2-6 months 101 F or higher
6 months- 2 years 103 F or higher

Colds & Flus are typical in small children- most get about six a year. Symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, a cough, watery eyes, or a fever. There is no prescription to cure a cold, but you can do things to make your child more comfortable:

  • Give your child a drink, soup, or popsicle every hour to keep hydrated and thin mucus.
  • Encourage rest. If your child is having trouble sleeping because of congestion, raise your child’s head by putting a wedge under the mattress. (Not in the crib itself.)
  • Use a rubber suction bulb or tube to clear your baby’s stuffed nose.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about giving a fever reducing medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. DO NOT give aspirin to your child.

Call Your Doctor or 911

First 5 California recommends you call your child’s doctor or 911 immediately if…

  • Your child has trouble breathing or is looking blue or purple.
  • Bleeding won’t stop.
  • Blood in your child’s urine or bowel movement.
  • Coughing up or throwing up blood.
  • Diarrhea and no urine for 6 hours.
  • Soft spot on your baby’s head is bulging or sunken.
  • Pain in the ear or liquid, pus, or blood coming out of your child’s ear.
  • Your child has a hard time swallowing or won’t eat.
  • Your child has both a fever and a stiff neck.
  • Fever of 100.2 degrees F (rectal), if your baby is younger than 2 months.
  • Fever of 101 degrees F (rectal), if your baby is between 2 and 6 months.
  • Fever of 103 degrees F (rectal), if your baby is between 6 months and 2 years.
  • You suspect your child may have ingested a poisonous substance.
  • Any injury that you think can lead to your child’s death.