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HealthInfo Canterbury

Helping your child with COVID-19 symptoms

There's no treatment that cures COVID-19, but there are things you can do to help your tamaiti (child) with the symptoms COVID-19 causes. The most important of these is giving them comfort, being reassuring and distracting your tamaiti with books or play.

You can look after your tamaiti with a fever at home if they:


These are the best and most comfortable ways to bring your child's temperature down.

If your tamaiti is happy and well, you don't need to do anything more. You don't need to treat the fever with medicine.

If your tamaiti is miserable because of the fever, you can give them paracetamol to make them more comfortable. You must follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. It's dangerous to give them more than the recommended dose. Find out how to give paracetamol to children safely.

If your doctor gives your tamaiti ibuprofen, only use it if your tamaiti has a fever and is miserable.

Don't give your tamaiti cold and flu medicines. Never give your tamaiti aspirin as this may increase the risk of Reye syndrome, which is a rare and serious illness.

Headache and other pain

If your tamaiti is in pain, as well as comforting and reassuring them, you can use medicine such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. You can buy these from a pharmacy or ask your doctor for a prescription.

If you buy the medicine from a pharmacy, tell the pharmacist who you're getting it for to make sure you get the right type for the age of your tamaiti. You must follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. It's dangerous to give more than the recommended dose.


Most coughs don't need treatment and get better by themselves within three to four weeks. Make sure your tamaiti child isn't exposed to any cigarette smoke.

Note the following.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

The main treatment is to keep giving your tamaiti fluids. Whichever fluids your tamaiti is having, the important thing is to:

Types of fluids

As long as they aren't dehydrated, you may also give your tamaiti the following drinks. You must dilute the drinks with water as they contain too much sugar (which can make the diarrhoea worse).

Drinks to avoid

Don't give pēpi or tamariki with vomiting or diarrhoea:


Foods to avoid

Don't give your tamaiti fatty or sugary foods such as takeaways, chippies, sweets, cakes, chocolate, ice cream, cream or coconut cream.


Don't give your tamaiti medicines for diarrhoea as they can be harmful to tamariki. Your doctor may occasionally prescribe a medicine for vomiting. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Vomiting and diarrhoea are usually caused by a virus and antibiotics don't treat viral gastroenteritis. The body will get rid of the virus on its own without treatment.

Sore bottom

Diarrhoea can cause a rash. After each bowel motion, wash your child's bottom and pat it dry. Then put on a protective cream or ointment (such as zinc and castor oil cream or Vaseline).

Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed February 2022.

Page reference: 937982

Review key: HICOV-710714