Parents' Guide To Understanding When And Why To Keep A Sick Kid Home

child sick

For a lot of moms, they have a hard time trying to make the right decision when it comes to keeping their kid home or sending them to school when they think they are sick. After all, different symptoms can mean different things.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, your child’s health should always be a priority. The last thing you want to do is send a sick child to school, even when you think that his or her symptoms might be mild. Your child might be spreading illnesses and viruses to his or her classmates without even knowing it.

If you're not sure if it's OK to send your child to school or daycare, based on their symptoms, here are some guidelines:


When a child has a fever that isn't accompanied by a runny nose, a cough, vomiting, or diarrhea, figuring out what's wrong can be tough for many parents. But the one thing that you don’t want to do is send him or her to school.

According to Washington Pediatrics, there are many viral infections that can cause a fever without any other symptoms.This is a tough one, a fever in a child can easily go up as it goes down throughout the day. With that being said though, if you child has a consistent fever that is higher than 100.4, feels lethargic and is not eating, definitely call your pediatrician. Bathing your child with lukewarm water may help bring it down.

Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t give your child any medicine unless you’ve discussed it with his or her pediatrician first. You can give acetaminophen to children to temporarily bring a fever down.


Oftentimes, diarrhea is cause by a virus that infects your gut. In addition, your child might have diarrhea after they ate something that upset their digestive system. You might want to take your child to the doctor if they've had diarrhea for more than two days.

According to Kids Health, you should also take them to the doctor if they show any of concerning symptoms like a fever. Also, if you want to stop diarrhea, consider changing your child’s diet by feeding them bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast. The foods that make up the B.R.A.T diet are those foods that will help cause the bulking and hardening of the stool. These foods include grains, and certain fruits. Below are more foods that will help firm-up and bind baby's stools when diarrhea occurs.


When your child vomits, there’s a good chance that he or she might have the stomach flu which quite honestly is the gift that keeps on giving. Depending on the virus and your child's immune system, the stomach flu can last anywhere from just a day or two to around 10 days. And your child should be kept home with any vomiting symptoms.

As far as what to give a child who is vomiting, there are several different options. For younger children, start with bland foods such as applesauce, mashed bananas, or infant cereal. Older children (over 1 year old) can be given crackers, toast, mixed grains, soups, mashed potatoes, or white bread. A normal diet can usually be continued about 24 hours after the vomiting has stopped.

The Flu

The flu is highly contagious and can knock you down for a couple of days. It is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Children with symptoms of the flu should be kept home until their symptoms resolve.

According to Healthline, your child may feel a headache, a mild sore or irritated throat, some congestion or any number of other cold symptoms. They start out mild and get worse after two to three days and then gradually go away. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers may help with symptoms. Also, keep in mind that an annual vaccine can help prevent the flu and limit its complications.

Hand, Food And Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a highly contagious infection and can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with unwashed hands or surfaces contaminated with feces. It's very important to keep kids home if they have symptoms of this so it doesn't infect everyone.

Symptoms include fever, sore throat, feeling unwell, irritability, and loss of appetite. According to the Mayo Clinic, they usually begin as small red spots, often in the back of the mouth, that blister and can become painful. A skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet may also develop over one or two days as flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters. Altogether, hand-foot-and-mouth disease may last around 5 to 10 days.

We understand that it's a real struggle to find care for your child when they're sick and you have to work. If in doubt, check in with your child's doctor or your kid's school/daycare and ask their protocols on keeping kids with symptoms home.

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