Schools and germs go hand in hand. Every child has to go through more than their fair share of the sickies when they first start school. They have to work their way through all the germs to help build up their little immune system. Not to mention kids pass germs around much more easily than grown ups thanks to all the toy sharing, a tendency to forget to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough, and the grossest thing of all, letting their nose run down their face (ewww!). Every parent knows their kids is going to get sick during the school year, especially during the cold and flu season. Keeping your child home from school when they are sick is a common courtesy to other families to help stop the spread of germs. But, where is the line. When is a child sick enough to stay home and when is it okay to send you child to school.

Maya has a little boy in her preschool class who has a weakened immune system and is much more susceptible to getting sick and when he does get sick it can quickly escalate into a dangerous illness. Now that we are right smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season the school has reminded us that it is important (especially in our classroom) to keep your child home from school if they are sick to help stop the spread of germs. Some symptoms are obvious triggers to keep a child at home, like a fever or vomiting, but what other symptoms should keep a child at home and when is it okay to send them back? Coughs associated with colds can sometimes stick around for weeks after all the other symptoms are gone. Some children are fine when they have a cold other than being a little stuffed up and maybe a little extra sneezy but are otherwise full of energy and fine to go about their day. It is tough to find that fine line.

Our school has a pretty realistic well child policy and I feel comfortable that the school and the other parents are doing their part. Each school is going to have their own policies and rules regarding when a child should stay home or what symptoms will get them sent home from school. You should always check with your child’s school regarding their policy and, of course, use your own common sense.

Obviously, with an immune compromised child in our class we parents are going to need to be a little extra diligent and considerate when we are making the decision on whether to keep our child at home. So far (knock on wood) Maya hasn’t been sick much this school year, and the times she has been sick have been during the days when she doesn’t have school. But, when that time comes when I have to keep her home I know she is not going to be happy about missing school unless she is feeling really sick.  That will be the tough part, explaining to her why she needs to stay home even if she isn’t feeling all that crappy.

When do you keep your child home from school? What symptoms are triggers for keeping them at home and when do you feel okay sending them back?

When our children are babies we worry a lot about poop.  Are they going often enough?  Is it the right color and consistency?  Do they have diarrhea?  Your child’s pediatrician will ask a lot of questions about poop that first year or so.  A lot about a child’s health and eating habits can be gleaned from observing what is coming out in their diapers.  Once your baby becomes a toddler there is much less focus on poopy diapers.  Most toddlers settle into a nice easy, once a day cycle that we don’t give much thought to.  We change the diapers, give them some prunes or prune juice if things seem to be getting a bit backed up and that is about it.

However, toddlers can have their own challenges in the poop department.  One of those being toddler diarrhea.  Toddler diarrhea is pretty much an otherwise unexplainable bout of diarrhea.  There is no real cause or underlying medical condition for toddler diarrhea, but many things can trigger it.  In most cases parents and doctors won’t know exactly what caused the diarrhea and things will eventually return to normal on their own.

There are a few things that are thought to set off toddler diarrhea including a change in diet or eating happens, an unrelated illness like a cold (especially if it caused changes in appetite and eating habits), or too much fruit or fruit juice.  Most toddlers will seem unfazed by the diarrhea and will continue to eat normally and gain weight normally.  For the most part there is no real treatment for toddler diarrhea other than a few diet changes.  Most doctors recommend keep their diet fairly bland, eliminating dairy (except for yogurt, which can help with digestive issues) and using a probiotic to help get things back on track.

My daughter is just getting over a case of toddler diarrhea.  She had a cold last week and by the end of the week had pretty bad diarrhea.  We took her to the doctor because she wanted to make sure she didn’t have an ear infection or anything.  Other than a little bit of nasal irritation from her cold the doctor found nothing.  She was diagnosed with unexplained diarrhea (or toddler diarrhea) and off we went with a recommendation to stick with a bland diet for a while and a week’s worth of probiotic samples.  4 days later and (knock on wood) she seems to be over her diarrhea.

If your toddler has diarrhea and no other symptoms to indicate they are ill you may find that they just have a bout of toddler diarrhea.  Call your child’s doctor to determine if he or she wants to see your child and to find out what they recommend for treating toddler diarrhea.  If the diarrhea continues or your child appears to be dehydrated call your doctor right away.  Dehydration is common with diarrhea and can be dangerous if it goes untreated.


Coming down with something like a cold or the flu during pregnancy is probably the last thing you want.  Since you are likely already dealing with annoying pregnancy symptoms likes morning sickness, exhaustion, back pain, heartburn, you name it having a cold can just make you feel down right terrible.  And, because you are pregnant it isn’t as easy to treat your cold either.  You can’t just pick up any old over-the-counter cold medication to help alleviate your symptoms.  When you’re pregnant you have to be careful and only take medications that are safe to use during pregnancy.

There are a few things you can do to help get you through bug and feeling better again:

  • Get lots of rest.  It is something you should be trying to do during your pregnancy anyway, but when you are feeling under the weather it is even more important to get enough rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.  Keeping hydrated will help your body fight the cold virus.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet.  Chicken soup can do wonders for a cold since it provides a lot of nutrition and added fluids.
  • If congestion is a big problem be sure to sleep propped up at night to help your sinus drain.  You could also try using a saline solution to help clear out your sinuses, some people swear by it, but it doesn’t work for everyone (you should not use over-the-counter nasal sprays).  You could also try Vick’s Vapor Rub or something similar.
  • Stay home from work.  If you can, take a few days off to make sure you can get plenty of rest and aren’t over doing it.
  • Take a hot shower or a warm bath to help relax your aching muscles and clear out your sinuses.
  • If you feel like you need to take over-the-counter medication to help alleviate your symptoms call your doctor to find out which medications are safe to use.

There isn’t a lot you can do other than ride out the bug.  It will go away eventually.  The most important thing to remember is to rest and drink plenty of fluids, they are the best thing you can do for your body to help it fight the infection.


It is that time of year again, cold and flu season.  Everyone with kids knows that the colds will be passed around the house several times before the cold and flu season is over. Parents, unfortunately, aren’t immune.  When the kids get sick they get pampered, they get to stay home from school, they get taken care of.  When parents get sick things aren’t quite so “nice”.  Parents still have to take care of the kids, the house, make the meals and keep things in order.  Life doesn’t stop just because you feel achy, stuffy andyou would rather stay in bed all day.

Feeling under the weather certainly doesn’t make all the normal parenting tasks any easier.  When your kids are older they will likely understand that you feel bad and won’t mind taking care of themselves a little bit.  However, younger kids, particularly babies and toddlers still require the same amount of attention and don’t understand why they can’t go to the park or swim lessons, etc.  So, what can you do to make sure life still roles on and you feel better soon?

  • Take care of yourself.  First and foremost taking care of yourself will mean you feel better sooner.  Don’t over do it, get lots of rest and pamper yourself a little if you can.
  • Get your spouse and older kids (if you have them) involved.  Give others in the family a few extra chores to do until you feel better.
  • Come up with a few fun activities for your toddler that they can do without a lot of work from you.  Set up a spot for them to read or color or play with blocks.
  • Don’t feel bad if all you want to do is lay on the couch and watch movies with your kids.  They’ll probably enjoy it.  Make them popcorn or another special treat so they feel like it is a fun, special day.
  • Don’t feel bad if you have to skip things like swim classes, library reading hour, a promised trip to the park.  You can always make it up to them when you feel better.
  • Your household chores will wait.  If you don’t feel up to it, don’t feel bad putting off the vacuuming or laundry or dusting until you are feeling better.

Feeling under the weather is no fun, especially when you can’t just lay in bed all day until you are feeling better.  Our families still need us, even if you we don’t really feel up to doing all the usually daily tasks of raising a family.  Don’t worry, you’ll feel better soon and your kids and spouse won’t mind if they don’t get as much out of you in the mean time.

What do you do when you are feeling under the weather?  How do you manage your household?


The flu, or influenza, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus.  The seasonal flu affects millions of people every year with an average of over 200,000 requiring hospitalization.  For many people the flu is an annoyance but it can be deadly, claiming, on average, over 30,000 lives each year.  Children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk from the flu.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • headache and body aches
  • chills
  • fatigue

For most people the flu lasts only a few days, however, some will become much sicker.  The flu can be treated with anti-viral medication such as Tamiflu.  You can help prevent contracting the seasonal flu by getting an annual flu shot.

The flu shot is an inactivated influenza vaccine injected into the muscle.  The vaccine changes each year, just as the flu virus changes each year, the vaccine contains the strains that they health community believes will be the prevalent strains for the upcoming season.  It is recommended that the following groups of people get vaccinated every year:

  • Children 6 months and older.
  • Adults over 50
  • Anyone with a compromised immune system, including, people with HIV/AIDS and those undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Anyone at an increased risk of complications from the flu, including, pregnant women, people with heart or lung disease, asthma, kidney or liver disease, or blood disorders
  • Anyone with a muscle or nerve disorder including seizure disorders and cerebral palsy.
  • Anyone undergoing long-term aspirin treatment.
  • Residents of chronic-care facilities including nursing homes.
  • Anyone who lives with or cares for people in the high risk groups above.

The risks and side effects of the flu vaccine are minimal and occur in only a small percentage of those who get the vaccine.  The risks and side effects include:

Mild Reactions (usually occur soon after the shot is given and last only 1-2 days):

  • Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site.
  • fever
  • aches

Severe, life-threatening allergic reactions are possible with an vaccine, but are extremely rare.  Severe allergic reactions usually occur within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccine is administered.  Signs of a severe reaction include: high fever, behavior changes, difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, weakness, rapid heart beat or dizziness.  If you experience any unusual symptoms after the flu shot you should call your doctor.

Most doctors offices have flu vaccines available now.  Call your doctor to schedule your appointment to help avoid getting sick from this seasons flu.  My daughter got her shot today and I’ll be getting mine next week.

If you have questions or concerns about the flu vaccine you should talk to your doctor.