Sick Days are for Nurturing

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sick preschooler bundled up resting cozily in bed nurturing through sick days

Into the life of every child come days when they are feeling unwell. A sore throat, runny nose, fever, tummy ache or feeling sore all over can sadly take over their small body. Luckily, nurturing through sick days is a parent’s privileged role. There is nothing more important than a parent’s presence to a sick child. When these days show up, often out of the blue, comforting rituals and routines with resources at the ready create an atmosphere of peace and serenity. Nurturing acts of love ease your child through the unpleasantness and foster recovery with a sense of security.

Create a Nurturing Nest

Firstly, visit the doctor if your child has a fever or you suspect anything more than the common cold. Follow all instructions under the doctor’s care. At home, build a comfortable nest with familiar pillows and blankets. Set them up with a hot water bottle to warm their nest and relieve chills. This will be their safe and secure space to rest and while away the time of sickness and convalescence.

Children associate their own bed with rest and relaxation. A child’s bedroom sanctuary is a natural place to nest. Next to their bed, place a small vase with flowers, a box of tissues and a little bell to ring if they need something. Allocate a personal sippy cup to stay well hydrated. Nurturing through sick days, check in every couple of hours to fluff up pillows, give a cuddle and make sure they’re comfortable.

If your child feels restless or needs a change of scenery, transfer their soft, pillowy nest to a couch in the living room next to a window. One day when my youngest daughter was sick at home, I found her quietly gazing out of a porch window. It gave me the idea to gently entertain her by refilling the bird feeder. Soon, she was able to watch birds flitting to and fro. Before long, squirrels joined in the feeding. It was a simple joy to lift her spirits for a few minutes. 

sick preschooler bundled up resting cozily in bed nurturing through sick days

Run a Soothing Bath

Nurturing through sick days naturally invites a comforting bath to feel better. Besides the benefit of getting clean, the soothing magic of bathing calms an achy body, relaxes and distracts an unhappy child. In addition, soaking in a warm bath can offer some relief to chest and sinus congestion.

If your child is feverish, drawing a lukewarm bath may help lower the fever. Children will often feel better when their fever drops by even one degree. Out of the bath, immediately dry and wrap your sick child in a warm towel to prevent chilling. Hanging the towel and fresh pajamas or nightgown on an oil heater or electric towel warmer for a minute before getting them dressed is an inviting tip. 

Another soothing option is to sponge bathe a sick child. It is comforting for them to hear you are, “Gently wiping the sick away.” On your lap, wrap your child in a towel, bathrobe or loose clothing. Use a warm, soapy washcloth to clean, beginning with the face and neck. Rinse with a second warm, wet washcloth. Continue washing and rinsing down the arms, hands, legs and feet. Keep the child covered through the sponge bath drying their little body as you go. This is a loving act nurturing through sick days.

Offer Comfort Foods

When a child is sick, food may not sound enticing. However, they do need to eat to receive the much needed energy for recovery.  Begin by asking if there is something that sounds good to eat. Start by offering bland food such as crackers, toast or soup. Make up a special sick day tray serving your child in their bed or “nest”. Stay and visit with them or read their favorite book

An article in the New York Post revealed the results of a study of favorite comfort foods. Parents and children agreed soup, broth, crackers and popsicles were their comfort food choices. Children also included mac and cheese, toast, pudding and oatmeal. Whatever your child’s food choice, let them choose the pace as well as how much they eat. 

Sick days are for nurturing and comfort foods can help your child begin to feel all is right with their world. Luckily, in time for me to nurture my own children, I came upon a delightful comfort food cookbook, Square Meals by Jane and Michael Stern. In the nostalgic chapter entitled Nursery Food, they have compiled sentimental recipes such as There, There Chicken Noodle Soup, Milk Toast, After School Gingerbread, Cambric Tea and Mary Jane’s Rice Pudding with Cream. It is a fun and entertaining read as well as a lovely resource for familiar childhood recipes that have stood the test of time.

When I was sick and lay a-bed,

I had two pillows at my head,

And all my toys beside me lay

To keep me happy all the day.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

vintage black and white sketch of a preschooler sick in a cozy bed with mom nurturing through sick days at home and giving her young child medicine

Collect Quiet, Simple Toys

As a child, my mother knew sick days are for nurturing. She had a drawstring bag she brought out only when her children were sick in bed making the bag’s simple, entertaining contents even more special. Mom had collected and filled the sick day bag with small puzzles, a miniature zoo in a box complete with fences, finger puppets, dinosaur models, games and small books. They were simple sick day surprises for a happy diversion

Keep watch for when your child has recovered enough to be interested in amusing pastimes. Collecting simple delights to have on hand for “under the weather” days is a soothing tradition. Looking at photo albums, going through mom’s costume jewelry and reading quality picture books suggested by the Golden Days at Home Preschool Curriculum are other special treats in bed. Think of unique quiet toys or activities your child might enjoy while recovering in bed making it a special time.

looking out of a window on rainy, nurturing through sick days at home in a preschooler bedroom with a cozy bed, pillows and blankets

When a child is sick, a parent’s loving attention and small touches mean the most. Being mindful that sick days are for nurturing, fosters a loving response to a child’s needs. Reassuring rituals that say “I love you” calm a child’s most challenging days and are a remedy children often respond to best.

If you have a special routine or remedies you put into practice on sick days, we would love if you would share them. The tried and true, heartfelt expressions of nurturing are a welcome addition to a parent’s caring wisdom.


Written by Janet Nicole Meyer for Golden Days at Home.

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Heirloom Art Co. is a destination for resources supporting a culturally rich and celebratory family lifestyle. Celebrating the seasons, holidays and special family traditions with heirloom quality products is their speciality. Children’s toys and books, seasonal goodies and many other beautiful products to enhance family life are available on their website.

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*Golden Days at Home is not an affiliate of Heirloom Art Co. and does not receive compensation from sales.

Janet Nicole Meyer

Janet Nicole Meyer

The founder and author of Golden Days at Home preschool curriculum savors all opportunities to play and travel with her now grown children. She and her husband hike, bike and enjoy living on a stream in Boulder, Colorado with their elderly English Mastiff, Roxy.

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