Looking after a sick child (from birth to 5)


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Almost all babies, toddlers and children aged up to five will get the most common childhood illnesses like chicken pox, colds, sore throats, ear infections. While these are not very nice at the time, they are easy to treat when required and then easily cared for at home.

For general advice on looking after a sick child visit the page, looking after a sick child on the NHS website.

Trust your instincts

It can be difficult to tell when a baby or toddler is seriously ill, but the main thing is to trust your instincts and seek medical advice.

You know better than anyone else what your child is usually like, so you'll know when something is seriously wrong. The NHS has a checklist of signs and symptoms that your child may be seriously ill.

For more information and support from our local health visiting service go to Children's Services :: Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust (clch.nhs.uk)

Infectious diseases for parents to be particularly aware of

There are some infectious diseases that parents need to be aware of, so they take the right action. This is because these infections can make children particularly poorly and in some instances cause long term damage or even death.

Parents are recommended to read the links below so they can recognise signs and symptoms and know what action to take.


Measles is an infection that spreads very easily and can cause serious problems particularly in the under 5s. Having the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent it.


Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly.  Meningitis can be caused by a number of different infections, so several vaccinations offer some protection against it.

Strep A including Invasive Group A Strep (iGAS)

Strep A is a common type of bacteria. Most strep A infections are mild and easily treated, but some are more serious.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet Fever is a contagious infection that mostly affects young children. It's easily treated with antibiotics.


Sepsis is life threatening. It can be hard to spot.

Page last reviewed: 09/04/2024

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