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Sniffle Solutions

Sick-day Strategies for Keeping Kids Entertained

Check out these boredom-busting activities that are sure to help your child make sick days just a li...

“Mommy, I don’t feel good.” Sound familiar?

It’s the call of a child who’s stuck in bed with a dreaded cold or flu. It breaks your heart, but there are plenty of things you can do to entertain her until she feels better.

Experts say the best course of action includes activities that are low-key and keep a child busy without wearing her out. “There are lots of great ways to keep children entertained and distracted when they’re home from school with a cold or the flu,” says Dr. Vivian Lennon, a pediatrician and the medical director of primary care at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Here are 11 comforting and clever ways often used by Lennon and moms like you to help kids have fun while they recover.

Symptom Soothers
These strategies help your little ones fight common cold and flu symptoms and keep boredom at bay:

  • Throw a tea party. Serve afternoon tea in bed for your child, her dolls and stuffed animals. Decaffeinated tea with milk and honey is the perfect beverage: The warm liquid soothes a sore throat and eases congestion, and the honey helps kick a cough.
  • Make a splash. Feverish kids often feel better after a bath, so stock the tub with toys: floating animals, cars and boats, and special crayons to draw designs on the sides of the bathtub. A steamy bathroom can also clear out a stuffy nose.
  • Care for a sick stuffed animal. If your child feels very ill, rest is best. Make catching extra z’s more fun by pretending your child’s favorite animal is under the weather too. Tell your daughter that Teddy needs to take a nap so he’ll feel better, and she can tuck him into bed with her.
  • Go camping. Resting is more exciting when it’s in a special spot. Pitch a tent in the living room or make a fort by draping a blanket over a table. Make it a comfy, kid-friendly zone with pillows, blankets, a sleeping bag and a lamp.

Feel-good Projects
Take your kid’s mind off the aches and pains with a crafty creation:

  • Make a sick-day tool kit. Decorate a plastic bin with stickers; then fill it with comic books, Mad Libs, beads and string, crayons, coloring books and more. The lid can double as a lap desk. The catch? This super-fun box only comes out when your little one is sick.
  • Play post office. Remember how your daughter’s teddy bear is feeling under the weather too? Have your child design a colorful get-well card for Teddy while you make one for her. Then be the postman and deliver the mail.
  • Show off. Create cheerful animal puppets together out of paper bags or socks. Then put on a puppet show while your child rests in bed. Does she need a pick-me-up? Focus the plot on an animal that stays home with the flu and then makes a speedy recovery after receiving a card from your child.

Get-well Games
Laughter can sometimes be healing, so here are some ways to put a smile on an ailing child’s face:

  • Play "Sick Simon Says." Let your child give you silly commands to do for five minutes every hour (“walk like a duck,” “hop on one foot” or “oink like a pig”).
  • Picture this. Make a DIY puzzle: Have your child choose a favorite photo, and print it on 8-by-10 paper. Glue it to a piece of cardboard and then cut out pieces in the shape of a jigsaw puzzle for her to put back together.
  • Have fun with cards. Stock up on card games from the dollar store. Go Fish and other kids’ classics like Crazy 8s and Old Maid are easier than board games to play in bed. Short on cards? Set up a game of memory with photos of family and friends.
  • Keep in touch. When you have chores to do or need a little me-time, give your child a walkie-talkie so she can contact you if she needs anything or feels lonely. Tell her jokes, check in frequently and keep her updated on what you’re doing so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on any fun.