Prepare for the Inevitable
Before the first symptoms appear, set up a sick day basket. Get some cold-related comforts, like soup, tea, facial tissues, and cough drops. If you are breastfeeding, talk to your pediatrician or OB-GYN about what over-the-counter medications are safe for you to take. (Read about some of the safest ones here.) Since you will already have the list handy, you will not have to take the time and energy to reach your doctor once you are down for the count with an illness.
For Baby, make sure that you keep your pediatrician's phone number next to the phone. At a regular well-baby visit, ask the doctor about what medications she recommends for your baby in the case of a cold, stomach virus, cough, and other common childhood illness. Note the doses and ask for specific instructions about when to call the doctor's office concerning your child's health.
Dr. Shubin says that many of the illnesses children get are viral. Because we do not yet have a way to treat those infections, medicines like infant Tylenol or Ibuprofen are used to treat the symptoms.
Only medicate your baby when he or she is in danger of becoming dehydrated, suggests Dr. Shubin. "I use comfort measures for kids who are miserable. The one thing they won't do when they're miserable is drink. So I will use medicine for kids to help them be comfortable enough to drink." Otherwise, tender loving care will likely help your baby heal just as quickly as medicine, he says.
Put Everything Else on Hold
Though it is true all the time, it is vitally true when you and your baby are sick: the most important thing is caring for your health and the health of your baby. Let the laundry pile up, close your cookbooks, and ignore the dirty floors. What your baby needs most when she feels sick is cuddling, comfort, feeding, and rest. Your body needs the recuperation time as well, so avoid the temptation to work while baby naps. Instead, take a rest yourself.
As soon as you know that you and your baby are coming down with something, cancel any appointments you have with friends or coworkers by simply explaining that your baby needs you to be home with him. Anyone experienced with caring for a sick child will empathize and understand that your reason for canceling is valid. And if they act peeved about your cancellation, maybe you should invite them over to sit with your baby for half an hour while you take a bubble bath or a much-needed shower!