The Sick Toddler Toolkit: All The Essentials To Care For A Sick Child

Before my son, I didn't know much about how to care for a sick child, let alone myself when I was sick, but nothing teaches you how to be a good caretaker better than becoming a mother. After last year's long season of seemingly never-ending colds and flu hit our house, I'm prepping for this winter's sickness like a Doomsday Prepper prepares for the end-times. I learned a lot last year as to what works and what doesn't in soothing Eli's cold symptoms, and while I tend to error on the side of not taking him to the doctor with every little cough or runny nose, I do like to be sure he is as comfortable as possible while he fights off infection.

So these days, I have a go-to toolkit with all my supplies for taking care of a little one that's under the weather. With Eli being sick last week and baby girl coming in just a couple months, I was recently motivated to re-stock it so I'm as prepared as possible to take great care of both of them during the long Minnesota winters.

Here are the top items in my toolkit for taking care of a sick toddler. I'd love to hear about any great products or tips you all have to care for your children when sick!
  • Vicks Baby Rub - I rub a bit of this on his chest and feet (then cover with socks) before bed to help clear his lungs and nose. 
  • Humidifier - We have the Crane Drop Humidifer and we actually run it all winter, whether or not Eli is sick. It's a bit of a pain to clean out and refill all the time, but overall, it's definitely worth it since the Minnesota winters are so dry. 
  • Raw Honey - Eli loves when I pull out the honey and sometimes it's the only thing I can get him to take when his cold is really bad. It's great for soothing sore throats and to ease a hoarse cough. And as you saw earlier this week, I also tried my hand at making honey lollipops and Eli loves them whether or not he's sick. Here's the recipe!
  • Boogie Wipes - I totally thought these were a hoax at first. Just another way for the baby industry to make a little more money - but no. If the nose is really runny, plain kleen-x will make their noses super raw  - and please, don't make the mistake of using a baby wipe on your child's nose - those things start to sting, especially after the nose is already raw! Boogie Wipes are great for quickly loosening the hardened stuff around the nose and wiping it clean without a stinging sensation. But use them sparingly - those things are spendy. 
  • Aquaphor - Speaking of dry, raw noses, I rub a bit of this on his nose to alleviate the dryness. You could also use vaseline.
  • NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator - Nasty concept, amazing results. Every single time I use it I pray that it doesn't malfunction. 
  • Nasal Saline - I don't use this too often, although we keep it on hand. Eli doesn't like it at all, but it does loosen the dried crusties (ewwww) in his nose, and the NoseFrida is perfect for clearing it out right after. A steamy shower also works well for this, so often that's what I do instead. 
  • Eucalyptus Oil - Speaking of a steamy shower, if Eli is really congested or has a bad cough, I'll turn on a hot shower or run the bath with a bowl of eucalyptus oil nearby. Then I'll sit with him in the bathroom for a bit to help clear things up. I also like to put a few drops of the oil in a pot of water on the stove and simmer it all day long during the worst of a cold. 
  • Homemade Pedialyte - My pediatrician said it was perfectly safe to make a homemade solution, so this is the recipe I use. It's super easy and Eli (usually) sucks it right down. 
  • Rectal Thermometer - I still take Eli's temperature rectally, simply because it's the most accurate. We do have a forehead thermometer, so eventually I'll switch. But I just like the peace of mind knowing I'm getting the most accurate reading possible. 
  • Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen - If I'm going to use it, I tend to use Ibuprofen. It's a bit stronger than Acetaminophen, but it's also more effective. But overall, I tend to try to error on the side of not using it at all. Often I'll only use it before bed - because sometimes you both just need some sleep and that's the only thing that will help.
  • Nublizer - Now that we have a nebulizer, I figure we might as well use it. When we first received it, the doctor sent us home with way too much medication than we really needed, so we have lots of extra. They told me to just keep it and use it when he was extra congested. It can't hurt him by taking it, only help, so I plan on pulling it out if his cough is extra tight or he needs additional congestion relief that the other remedies can't provide. 
And a quick heads up, in the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some of my best tips for soothing Eli's cough and congestion on Twin Cities Moms Blog - keep an eye out if you're looking for more ways to help out your toddler.

 What about you all? Any you'd add? 


  1. We watched Elyse use the Nasal Aspirator this weekend and I thought Mike was going to pass out. HA!

  2. Hey Laura - none of your links worked for me, just FYI!

  3. Thanks for sharing! A few of your links aren't working. Just thought I'd let you know! :)

  4. Thanks for letting me know - I just fixed them, they should all be working. Appreciate the heads up!

  5. Gah! Just fixed them, thanks for letting me know!

  6. Bahaha! I think any adult just about DIES the first time they're introduced to it! It is terrifying!

  7. I've been researching essentials oils more because I feel like I know nothing about them and they are obviously potent and powerful. I found this great website for information on recommendations and safe usage without regard to a specific brand (which I like). Apparently eucalyptus oil is not safe to use on or around kids under 10?! I had no idea considering I had done it and used Vicks like every other mom I know. I found a recipe that is supposed to work for congestion and sinus issues that I'm going to try out this winter. I wonder why it's so widely deemed safe, yet some oil experts say it's not? In any case, just something I had recently discovered.

  8. Oh my goodness - thank you so much for telling me! I just did a bit of research on it and now my head is swimming. Some things say it's safe for kids over the age of two, if diluted/not applied directly on the chest. But you're right, most things say over 10 to use it! Crazy. I'm not sure what to do about it, kinda seems like one of those "one in a million" chances that something will happen, but then again, it's likely not worth the risk. Thanks again for mentioning something!

  9. Yeah it completely seems like it's a really rare thing, but the more I read and thought about it the more I realized I couldn't do it with a clear conscience. Oils obviously work for a reason so I wanted to make sure I was being safe and careful. If one of those others could have the same effect then why not. That web site had good lists of safe oils for kids and using while pregnant/breastfeeding as well. Someone recommended I use oregano oil for my allergies, but I read it's a huge no no for pregnant women! Learning all the time.

  10. I'm bookmarking this. My son hasn't been sick yet (knocking on every piece of wood in my house), so I will have no idea what to do once he does. This helps a lot!