How to Care for Toddlers With Pneumonia

Mother taking sick daughter's temperature
Rest is important for toddlers with pneumonia. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Contact your toddler’s pediatrician immediately if you suspect he has pneumonia. Pneumonia symptoms include fever, cough, chills, rapid breathing, nasal flaring, chest pain, wheezing and nasal congestion. In severe cases, your toddler’s fingernails and lips may turn a bluish gray color. Toddlers will appear limp and pale, and they may cry more than usual. Once your toddler is home from the doctor, take certain measures to ensure that your toddler’s recovery is as comfortable as possible.

Step 1

Administer antibiotics on schedule and exactly as prescribed by your toddler’s pediatrician. Viral pneumonia will not respond to antibiotics, but it’s difficult to tell whether pneumonia is viral or bacterial, so doctors typically prescribe antibiotics. Your child’s pediatrician may need to try more than one antibiotic to find the correct medication for treating your toddler’s type of pneumonia.

Step 2

Increase the amount of fluids your toddler drinks to prevent dehydration. Water is the best option, but juice can help as well. A warm broth can help loosen your child’s cough.

Step 3

Keep your toddler home from daycare or preschool until the fever has disappeared and she is no longer coughing up mucus. Consult with your toddler’s pediatrician before sending her back to daycare or preschool.

Step 4

Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce your toddler’s fever. Check with your toddler’s pediatrician for proper dosage instructions. Go to the emergency room if your toddler acts confused, has difficulty breathing, has blue lips or has a high fever that’s not responding to ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Tip

Provide an atmosphere that encourages rest for your toddler. Have your toddler wear pajamas and provide blankets and pillows on a bed or couch. Read books and draw picture with your toddler to create a relaxing environment.

Warning

Failure to seek treatment for your toddler’s pneumonia can be fatal. The lung infection can spread to the bloodstream or the amount of oxygen that reaches your toddler’s lungs can be reduced. Blue lips or nails means your toddler is not getting enough oxygen to the lungs.

Coughing is a necessary reflex when your child has pneumonia because it helps clear secretions, so avoid giving cough suppressants to a toddler with pneumonia. Never give cough medicine to children under the age of 4.

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