How to Keep Your Child Entertained on Sick Days


is the season! No not that one…cold and flu season.  And cough, and runny nose, and all manner of bugs and viruses that like to strike as soon as the weather turns chilly!

For kids in day care, this means that your little one may seem to be home sick more often than they are at school. As soon as the thermometer reads a temperature, odds are your facility has strict rules keeping your little one from attending.

If your kid is anything like mine however, one tablespoon of Tylenol and, though still under the weather, they are very much themselves and in need of entertainment. Here are five ideas on how to keep your patient happy and healthy while they ride out their latest winter bug!

Feed the fever!
There are lots of ways to involve a child of any age in the preparation of soothing and comforting meals and drinks. Try to have on hand an array of pastas: alphabet, elbow, star, etc. and have your youngest sort them into plastic cups to add to different servings of chicken noodle soup (it is also fun to tape up the cups to make rattles). Or, let the older ones take part in the slicing of veggies and chicken if they can manage. If your doctor has recommended Pedialyte, it can be fun to buy a couple of flavors and play at combining them for fun with tastes and colors.

Accomplish a little something together
When your kiddo is sick, you can feel as if your professional and personal productivity is taking a serious hit. But there are often some simple and repetitive home tasks that can be accomplished in spite of and even with a sick child. See if your little patient is interested in playing mix and match with your lost sock drawer. Scavenge your house for items to donate to your favorite charity or thrift shop and involve your child in choosing the best items for the cause.

Books on tape
These have become less popular over the years; I used to have books on LP’s…but I’m dating myself! A modern solution is to hack together a reliable library using your iPhone or Android’s voice recorder. Every few nights, I set it on the baby’s bedside while we read together. Then I label the recordings and keep them in reserve. He loves to sit on the couch and turn the pages to my voice on the phone.

Nothing wrong with a little TV therapy
Hey, when I’m sick, I like to catch up on my instant Netflix queue. So don’t feel guilty about letting your ailing little one overdose on a little Thomas the Tank Engine or Dora for a little while. Or, pick out an old classic that you both can enjoy, like Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz. This often inspires new games and activities, like trying to count flying monkeys or drawing the Von Trap family.

The Sick Day Box
I keep a small box in baby’s room with some books about feeling under the weather (like Llama Llama Home with Mama), a toy doctor kit (I like the B. Doctor Kit), and some small and disposable assorted coloring books and puzzles. Novelty is key, so I like to grab extra coloring menus at restaurants or dollar stores to make sure they are things my son hasn’t seen before and things he won’t mind not seeing again…who wants to store those germs back in a box!

What do you do when your little one is sick? How do you keep them entertained?

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  • I love the book on tapes/LP/iPhone idea! When I would nanny, I would turn on the Harry Potter audio tapes when I’d make dinner and we’d listen to adventures of Harry while in the kitchen. Nine times out of 10 our pasta cooking would end in a kitchen wand duel.

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