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You’re caring for your grandchildren, but they aren’t feeling their best. One of those pesky winter colds is putting a damper on your fun. Here are some things to remember when caring for sick grandchildren.

First of all, be sure the children’s parents have given you permission to care for them when they’re ill. It’s a good idea to have the permission in writing should you need to take the child to a doctor or hospital. It’s also a good idea to have copies of the children’s health history so any attending physician can see shot history, major illnesses, allergies, and the like.

When children have a cold they tend to be tired and cranky. It’s important that they get proper rest and drink plenty of fluids to speed their recovery. If you do decide to give over the counter medicines to sooth cold symptoms, be sure you have the proper children’s versions of them. Children’s medicines doses are determined by the child’s age and weight so it’s very important to follow directions carefully. Always read the directions and measure out the doses with the lights on to avoid mistakes.Whenever a fever spikes up or symptoms persist it’s a good idea to call an advice nurse or doctor.

Common colds usually present themselves with runny noses, sneezing, perhaps a headache and sometimes with an attending cough. Using a vaporizer as they sleep (or in a pinch breathing the steam from a hot shower) will reduce congestion problems. Propping up the head of the child’s bed is also a helpful tactic. Colds respond well to doses of either paracetamol or ibuprofen products.

Earaches or ear infections may accompany a cold. Watch for a baby or toddler to rub or pull his ear, feel hot and irritable and in some cases have a sticky fluid inside the ear. Earaches can be serious if they persist and should be treated by the doctor. Pain relief medications may be used and you should avoid getting water in the ear during this time.

Teething can present the same symptoms as a cold. The child is irritable and restless and may drool a lot. You may be able to feel a bump on the gums where the tooth is growing. Rubbing gently can relieve the discomfort. Or try a clean chewing toy or teething gels if the child is over three months of age. Ibuprofen will relieve the pain. There is more information about this on Calpol’s Teething Page.