Sick Baby Survival Guide

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

There’s nothing worse than a sick baby. Because when your baby is sick…

  • You don’t really know until the illness passes whether your little one is on the brink of something horrible, or just caught a bug from that random toddler at the restaurant who picked up his teething toy — and licked it;
  • Probably, probably puke and nasty diapers are involved;
  • Definitely, sleep deprivation is involved;
  • A teeny, tiny, helpless, wheezing, crying, sniffling, sad little thing who can’t be comforted, no matter what you do? It’s the kind of thing that should be outlawed!

But, alas. You can’t outlaw sickness in a baby. All you can really do is suck it up and deal. With that in mind, here’s my been-there-done-that guide to surviving the sick-baby blues:

  1. First, make sure it’s not serious. Call the pediatrician. The nurse taking your call will ask a few questions then probably will tell you to either come in right away, or come in if the fever spikes, the symptoms persist beyond a certain number of days, etc.
  2. Never underestimate your mommy instincts. If that nurse happens to assure you that there’s no need to see the pediatrician, yet you have a deep-down, completely unscientific gut feeling that your baby needs medical attention, demand an appointment anyway. Your gut knows your baby better than any nurse’s checklist.
  3. Have a well-stocked medicine cabinet. Do you know what’s worse, actually, than a sick baby? A sick baby in a snowstorm with no infant ibuprofen in the house. You should have within arm’s reach something for fevers, something for teething, something for an unhappy little tummy, something for the sniffles, plus a thermometer, nasal aspirator, super-soft tissues and hydrocortisone cream. Always.
  4. Don’t tell the worry warts. You know who I’m talking about — that great aunt who calls your cousin every day to make sure she remembered to take her vitamins; your sister-in-law, who ducks like a bomb went off every time someone sneezes. They’ll just make you nervous, and you need to be strong for baby.
  5. Don’t blame yourself. (Says the mom who wonders whether her son’s vision problem at age 9 was due to her ingesting artificial sweeteners when she was pregnant.) It’s tempting to retrace your steps and wonder if taking baby to the supermarket or allowing the landlady with her chronic cough to cuddle with your kid is the reason why your little one is so miserable. But even if it is the fault of you or the shopping cart you chose or your poor landlady, there’s no point in thinking about it now. These things just happen.
  6. Take care of YOU. We’ve already established that sleep deprivation is going to be involved. You’re going to be stressed, too, and probably won’t have time for immune-boosting activities like yoga and cardio. But when baby’s finally sleeping, try to relax with a nice cup of green tea, escape for a soothing bath — or grab a nap yourself. If all else fails, at least take your vitamins! (The worry warts in your family will be proud.)

Jorie Mark is’s Director of Marketing Communications and mom to three kids, ages 3 to 10.