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We ask a paediatrician for you: Why is my child always sick?

Many parents with young children may feel like the frequent illnesses they bring home from school or daycare will never end. They might frantically ask, “Why is my child always sick?” At the same time, they seem to be prone to getting into accidents quickly, leaving parents and caregivers feeling helpless and worried. But why does that happen so often to young children, and what can we do about it? Let’s explore some of the reasons why and discuss how we can help prevent them.

In collaboration, Aunty has partnered with Dr. Mohana Rajakulendran from Petite Practice to answer some of the most frequently asked questions

Interview with Dr. Mohana

Dr. Mohana from Petite Practice

1. What is considered normal for coughs and colds? When should I bring my child to a doctor?

Common coughs and colds are known to last up to 2-3 weeks. Sometimes, the sound of the cough is a lot more distressing to the caregivers than it is to the child who is happily continuing his/her activities. The truth is, children are able to cope with a cough.

Usually, prolonged fever of more than 5 days, breathlessness or retractions, or lethargy/reduced oral intake of fluids are all red flags to seek immediate medical attention. A prolonged cough of more than 4 weeks should also warrant evaluation.

2. Should we give our children medicine? When should the child take antibiotics?

Medications that you use for colds/viruses (fever, cough, cold, or phlegm) don’t actually help to fight the infection! Medications for viral illnesses are purely supportive to keep the child comfortable while they continue to fight the infection. The only thing you need is antibiotics for a clear bacterial illness (e.g. pneumonia, ear infection UTI) as the body cannot clear bacteria and can get increasingly unwell. Only take antibiotics when given a clear diagnosis!

3. How do we reduce the frequency of kids falling sick? What would you recommend to strengthen immunity?

Let the kids play! Even if there is dirt, sand, and mud. This allows them to build their immunity. Being too clean and judicious with wet wiping everything increases the chances of getting allergies or falling sick. Strike a balance– play in natural environments but perhaps wipe down in man-made indoor ones to reduce cross-viral transmissions.

4. What do you wish parents with young children should know or do more about?

I realise that so much needs to be done to empower parents to care for very common childhood illnesses. There is no need to urgently see a doctor on the first day of a fever or cough or cold. Nothing a doctor would do is likely to be very different from medications you would already have at home. Have you learned how to alternate your paracetamol and ibuprofen? Watch for red flags for which you need to take your child to the doctor instead. Illnesses progress over time. For example, bronchitis takes time to develop on days 4-6 of an illness, investigations are done for prolonged fevers beyond 5 days, and rashes take time to develop to become more obvious. Save your efforts, time, and money, and plan ahead to see a doctor when you need to instead.

Thank you, Dr. Mohana! 😊

Image credit: Aunty

So, what can you do?

Encourage your child to have healthy meals and drink plenty of water

Ensure that your children are getting the nutrition they require by providing them with a variety of meals and snacks that have fruits and vegetables so they can obtain the vitamins and minerals that will support the development of their immune systems.

Sleep and lots of rest

Children must get enough sleep to develop well. They must get enough restful sleep so that their bodies can have the time to repair themselves. Sleep is essential for immune system regulation, which reduces a person’s susceptibility to illnesses and diseases. Having a good night’s sleep also means that they will be alert during the day, which will help them focus and learn more in school!

Supervision and guidance

Young children need constant supervision and guidance. As a parent or babysitter, it’s important to keep a close eye on your child and intervene when necessary to prevent falls or accidents. This includes teaching them how to walk and run safely, how to use playground equipment properly, and how to navigate their environment without putting themselves in harm’s way.

Keep your child at home when ill

When ill, keeping your child at home will lessen the likelihood that they will infect other kids. This also helps your child get the rest and attention they need to recover. Parents who are also working would need to make alternative arrangements for the child’s care, such as hiring a babysitter or getting a grandparent. You can also boost your child’s immunity ensuring that he or she gets all the recommended vaccinations.

Aunty tip: You can book a babysitter if you are unable to be with your child when he/she is resting at home. Many of our Sitters are first-aid trained. However, do check with your sitter if she is comfortable watching a child who is unwell; some may have young kids or elderly at home! 

For an appointment for your child at Petite Practice, book online at your convenience at They also offer teleconsultations with home medication delivery for suitable cases. Kindly contact them at 62332191 to advise on suitable arrangements for your child’s condition. 

Parents can also request for a teleconsult via the contact form on the website!

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