Common childhood illnesses & well-being
A parent’s guide for children aged 0-4
Know the basics

Know the basics

Being prepared and knowing the signs

Parents are usually good at noticing when something is wrong. However, it is normal to worry that you won't recognise the signs that your baby is unwell. Trust your instincts, you know your baby best.

Learn how to spot the signs of serious illness and how to cope if an accident happens. If you know the basics and you are prepared, you will find it easier to cope.

Keep a small supply of useful medicines in a locked cabinet or somewhere up high where a child cannot reach them. See box below, for things to have at home just in case. Make sure you’ve got the right strength of medicine for the age of your child, always follow instructions carefully and check use by dates. Read the label carefully. Do not give aspirin to children under 16.

Find out about CPR (resuscitation) before a possible emergency, visit

If your baby seems to have a serious illness get medical help straight away.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen

Consider using either sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen for children with fever who appear distressed (as a general rule a temperature of over 38°C 100.4°F), as these can help to reduce fever and distress. Ensure they are drinking enough and appear otherwise well. Treat them with either paracetamol OR ibuprofen in the first instance. It can take up to an hour for either of them to work. Paracetamol and ibuprofen should NOT be given together at the same time. However, if your child remains distressed before the next dose is due, then you may want to try a dose of the other medicine.

Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age.

Pharmacist says

Keep a small supply of useful medicines in a locked cabinet or somewhere up high where a child cannot reach them. Include things like:





Barrier cream

Liquid painkillers (e.g. sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen)

Barrier cream

Barrier cream

Barrier cream


Sun cream

Sun cream

If a child in your care is ill or injured, choose from the following services available:

  • Concern

  • Service

  • What to do?

  • Grazed knee
    Sore throat
    Coughs and colds

  • Self Care

  • You can treat minor illnesses and injuries at home by using the recommended medicines and making sure they get plenty of rest

  • As a parent if you are:
    Need help

  • NHS 111
    For 24 hour health advice and information.

  • Call NHS 111 when it is less urgent than 999
    Tel: 111

  • Mild diarrhoea
    Mild skin irritations (including spots/rash)
    Mild fever

  • Pharmacist
    For advice on common illnesses, injuries and medication.

  • To find your local pharmacy and its contact details visit:

  • High temperature
    Head injuries not involving loss of consciousness
    Persistent cough
    Worsening health conditions (inside GP hours)
    Minor bumps, cuts and possible fractures
    Abdominal pain

  • GP
    For the treatment of illnesses and injuries that will not go away.

  • Make a note of your GP’s (family doctor) telephone number.

    Use NHS 111 out-of-hours service

  • Severe pain
    Worsening health conditions
    Loss of consciousness
    Broken bones

  • Urgent Care
    When you need healthcare in a hurry 24 hours a day.

    A&E or 999
    For serious and life-threatening emergencies.

  • A&E


NHS 111 is free to call from any landline or contract mobile phone. Pay-as-you-go mobile phones require 1 pence credit to make a call.