Open a PDF version to print this topic

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 child with books or play.

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

Fever

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

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

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

Headache and other pain

If your tamaiti child 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 child . You must follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. It's dangerous to give more than the recommended dose.

Cough

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 child fluids. Whichever fluids your tamaiti child is having, the important thing is to:

Types of fluids

As long as they aren't dehydrated, you may also give your tamaiti child 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 babies or tamariki children with vomiting or diarrhoea:

Food

Foods to avoid

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

Medicines

Don't give your tamaiti child medicines for diarrhoea as they can be harmful to tamariki children . 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).

Adapted from KidsHealth NZ by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created November 2021.

Page reference: 937982

Review key: HICOV-710714