All children get ill. No matter how well you care for your child, he or she is likely to catch whatever's going round. You'll know that they are unwell when they are listless and sleepy.
Don't give aspirin to children under 12 years of age. Paracetamol syrup is safer. It will help reduce any temperature and discomfort. Always follow the instructions on the bottle and give it in the dose recommended for the age of the child.
Never run out of paracetamol and don't wait for a doctor to come before giving it. Children may well seem normal an hour after a dose of paracetamol, even when they were quite unwell before. This is often why they seem better as soon as the doctor arrives! However, doctors want to assess the illness, not the fever, and it can often be easier for a doctor to assess a child who has had paracetamol.
Also give your child plenty of fluids. Boxed drinks with bendy straws are easier to cope with in bed. Young children may not want to drink but you must keep trying, even if this means patiently giving the drinks from a spoon. (Avoid high sugar drinks when dealing with tummy bugs.)
Be prepared to nurse your child during the night if need be. The temperature will fluctuate up and down. Avoid wrapping the child up in blankets and try to keep the room reasonably cool. Don't drink alcohol. Apart from the fact that you will need your wits about you, you may need to drive your child to an out-of-hours centre or the local casualty unit.
This was adapted from The NCT Book of Child Health by Dr Morag Martindale, £5.99 from NCT Sales. Ring 0870 112 1120