As I mentioned for essentially the entirety of last week, Ryan had his first real illness last week. High fever, very cranky, super clingy. Basically not like him whatsoever. Turn out he had a double ear infection AND he was cutting his first molar. Poor kid.
All that to say, last week was rough. Like, I wasn’t sure how to make it through, rough. Like, I almost asked Alex to come home, rough. It was probably my hardest week of parenting since I became a mom. But I know more are coming. Ryan will get sick again, and so will any other babies we have in the future. Thus is the life of a kid.
So, when you’re little one inevitably gets sick, here are some tips for how to survive a sick baby with your sanity in tact.
1. Drop all rules and expectations. First and foremost, understand that all rules are off while your baby is sick. That precious sleep schedule you’ve made? Done. Meals? No, thanks. 10 minutes of hands-free time? I don’t think so. Accepting this is the first step to remaining sane. Ryan was quiet and happy while watching Disney Junior, so it was on all day while he was sick. Am I an advocate for letting your 1 year old watch cartoons all day? Absolutely not. Was I willing to set that aside to keep him happy-ish? You better believe it.
2. Get in those naps anyway possible. Sunday and Monday, Ryan took a few short (20 minutes) naps. By Tuesday, nothing. No naps. On Thursday I finally wised up and put him in the Ergo -AHH. Sweet, precious sleep. Okay, so I couldn’t sit, and was stuck standing and rocking while he nursed himself to sleep for 2+ hours, but I had my phone and Netflix, so it could have been worse. Plus, after those naps he was the happiest he’d been all week. Sleeping helps our bodies heal and fight whatever is ailing them. Sick kids need to sleep. If you kid always sleeps in the carrier, slap it on and walk around your house. In the stroller? Go to the park for a long walk and listen to some podcasts. Car? Go for a drive. If you can, do whatever it takes to get you baby to sleep so their bodies can do their job!
3. Easy, one-handed food. To be honest, the constant holding reminded me of the first few months of Ryan’s life when he had colic and wanted to be held all.day.long. Like back then, all of my meals needed to be easy to grab and easy to make. Burritos were the food of choice last week, but anything that can be held with or eaten with one hand is perfect. That way you can eat while your kid is, say, sleeping the Ergo. This really made me remember that I need to keep a few different meals on hand that I can just defrost and eat. I plan on making a bunch of burritos soon and freezing, just like I did when I was pregnant with Ryan.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!! This is the number one thing for sick kids and babies. Make sure they are getting in fluids. We kept a sippy filled with ice water on hand at all times, and thankfully, I’m still nursing. BUT this isn’t just for the babe – this means you too! You’re going to be stressed, tired, and run-down. Don’t add dehydrated to that list! it makes you so much more susceptible to catching what they have if it’s contagious.
5. If something’s working, keep it up until it’s not. This was big in terms of getting food in Ryan. Sunday we realized if we spoon fed him, he would take it. Over the next few days we shared a few smoothies, some yogurt and oatmeal, all by me spoon feeding. As you may know, since we introduced solids using baby led weaning Ryan has never really been spoon-fed, but it worked, so we kept up with it. Same for naps in the Ergo, cuddles while watching cartoons, and multiple cool baths a day. If it’s working and keeping your kid happy and you sane, keep it up even if it’s weird/time-consuming/a little against how try to parent.
6. Follow your gut. Our pediatrician’s office told us that 72 hours is normal for a fever if there are no other symptoms like vomiting or inconsolable crying for 2 or more hours. On Wednesday, Ryan woke up with no fever, so I thought we were in the clear. But his temperature went to 99 in the afternoon and I called the doctor. They said it was probably on it’s way out, but come in if I wanted to, so I made an appointment for an hour later. Before I left the house, he was at 101 and diagnosed with a double ear infection at the office, so I am SO glad I went with my gut and just took him in. As parents, we know our child better than any medical professional, and only you know if your child is acting unlike himself. Always, always, always go with your gut regarding your babies.
7. Know that it won’t last forever. At the very peak of this all, when I saw a tooth bud, a 103 fever, and was doling antibiotics, the stress and anxiety were overwhelming. But I told myself that this would not last forever. The next week he would probably be back to his little tyrant self. All I could do was make him as comfortable as possible, and wait for the medicine to do its job and for his teeth to break through. It’d definitely a hard thing to accept, but sometimes it’s simply the best you can do.
Thankfully, Ryan’s feeling a ton better and is almost back to normal. His molar is almost all the way through (though I see at least two additional very swollen spots in his gums where the next ones are coming!! Send the good vibes!) and on Monday we go for a follow up to make sure the ears have completely cleared. But I learned SO much through this past week, and I hope that our week of misery provides you with a little bit of an easier time next time your little one is sick.
So, what are your golden rules for how to survive a sick baby with your sanity in tact? Have you ever had to go against your parenting rules in order to make your little one feel better? Let me know in the comments!