What can you do to improve your child's self-care - or your own if you are a child?

High temperature

Fevers are quite common in young children and are usually mild. To help reduce a fever, encourage your child to drink clear fluids

Child-friendly paracetamol or ibuprofen may be useful if your child has a fever and is also unwell, ask your pharmacist for adviceAlways use the thermometer under the armpit with children under five.


Having your baby immunised is the best way to protect against serious diseases

All childhood immunisations are free. The first ones are given at two months old. They will then be given further doses of these immunisations when they are three and four months old.

Other immunisations are given between 12 and 13 months of age, then at three years and four months of age (before your child starts school).

Check against the NHS vaccination schedule tab on this page.

Being sick and upset stomachs

It is not unusual for your baby to be sick (vomit) quite a lot in the first few weeks as they become used to feeding

Make sure that everybody in your family washes their hands regularly with soap and warm water to avoid spreading harmful bacteria. Vomiting can last one or two days and in most children it stops within three days.


Don't stop breastfeeding and continue usual feeds

Give extra fluids in addition to usual breast milk or formula feeds if you are bottle feeding. You can get oral rehydration fluids and advice from your local pharmacy.

Don't share towels.

Diarrhoea can last 5-7 days and in most children it stops within two weeks. If your newborn/ baby has been sick several times and is suffering from diarrhoea, seek medical advice.

Rashes and dry skin

Dry, flaky skin, some blemishes, blotches and slight rashes are normal in newborns and will naturally clear upNappy rashes can be treated with a simple skincare routine and by using a cream you can get from the pharmacyUse cotton wool and warm water instead of baby wipes. Baby wipes are convenient when you are out and about but they can cause skin to become soreHeat rash is common for babies. This mainly appears on the head and neck as tiny red spots and is nothing to worry about. Keep the baby warm but not hot and try to dress him or her in natural cotton clothes, with nothing that can rub on the skinIf your baby has a rash that does not disappear when you press a glass to it, contact your doctor or go to the Emergency Department immediately.

Coughs and colds

Babies and children can have eight or more colds a year, most will run their course without doing any harm. Give your baby more to drink than normal. Try baby paracetamol (not aspirin).

Keep your baby away from smoke, do not let people smoke at home, in the car or anywhere around your child.


If your child has sustained a head injury, observe them closely for 48 hours to monitor whether their symptoms change or worsen

If your child loses consciousness go immediately to the Emergency Department. If you think your child has been burned or scalded, immediately put the burn or scald under running cold water to reduce the heat in the skin.

If your child's clothes are stuck to the skin, don't try to take them off. Don't put butter, toothpaste, oil or ointment on a burn or scald.

Teething troubles

Most babies get their first milk tooth at around six months. There are 20 milk teeth in total and most children will have all their milk teeth by about two and a half.

The first permanent 'second' teeth grow at the back at around the age of six. To help relieve teething pain you can give your child some sugar-free baby paracetamol or ibuprofen. Follow the instructions on the bottle for your child's age, or check with your pharmacist, GP or contact NHS 111.


Chickenpox is a mild condition that most children catch at some point. It takes 10 to 21 days for the signs to show. The rash usually appears on the chest and back.

You and your baby should stay away from other people until all of the blisters have fully burst and dried, which usually happens five to seven days after the first blister appears.

It is important to keep babies cool as itching gets worse if they are hot. Speak to your local pharmacy about treatment which can help to calm itching.

Ear problems

Ear infections are common in babies and small children. They often follow a cold and sometimes cause a temperature.

If your child has earache but is otherwise well, it is okay to give them paracetamol and ibuprofen together (make sure you read the instructions carefully or ask your local Pharmacy).

Don't put any oil, eardrops or cotton buds into your child's ear. Most ear infections are caused by viruses, which can't be treated with antibiotics. They will just get better by themselves.


Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to a cold or flu (fever, vomiting, irritability and restlessness). However, babies and children with meningitis can become seriously ill in hours, so make sure you can recognise the signs.

Find the full list of symptoms here.

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