Childhood illness - the basics

Healthy young children have up to 12 infections each year. These are a normal part of childhood. As a parent or caregiver you deal with these but you may worry about missing a serious illness. There is no foolproof system to tell you whether or not your child is seriously ill. Knowing your child and seeing a change in your child's behaviour could be the most important clue.

A young boy blowing his nose

© Grzegorzmoment | Dreamstime.com - Child cold flu illness tissue blowing runny nose

Sick young boy lying in bed with a thermometer in his mouth and his mother's hand on his forehead

A fever by itself does not mean your child is seriously sick - even an ordinary cold can cause a high fever. Did you know that fever actually helps your child's body fight off infection?

A hand holding a thermometer (showing 39.5 Celsius) in the foreground with a little child in bed, out of focus, in the background

The most common reason for a child to have a raised temperature is because they are fighting off an infection.

Father with his back to camera holding his crying unwell young child

There is no foolproof system to tell you whether or not your child is seriously ill but you can check a list of symptoms that indicate a significant health issue. If your baby is under 3 months old and you are worried, go to a doctor.

Crying baby with thermometer under arm

Baby Check is a tool to help parents decide if their baby under 6 months old needs a doctor.

Washing hands in basin

Cleaning your hands gets rid of germs you pick up from other people. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses.

Febrile convulsions are a common childhood problem between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. They happen when a child has a fever.