According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the average young child between 1 and 3 years of age may get up to 12 colds a year. Telltale signs: a cough or a runny or stuffy nose.
Treatment Keep your child comfy until the cold runs its course. Give him nasal saline drops, run a cool-mist humidifier in his room, and suction his nostrils at least once a day. Because colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics are ineffective, and the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't advise administering cough and cold meds to children under the age of six.
Contagious factor When your child is feeling his worst (days three through five), he's most contagious. But symptoms can last for up to two weeks, and he's contagious as long as he's sick. Of course, you can't quarantine him for days. So wash your hands frequently after touching him, and keep him away from other kids during the cold's peak. And if the snot is green versus yellow? It doesn't matter. All colds are contagious regardless of mucus color.Ear Infection
One of the most common childhood illnesses, it's caused by bacteria settled behind the eardrum that cause a buildup of pressure in the middle ear canal. For your little one, this translates to pain! Other possible symptoms include fever, decreased appetite, fussiness, and sleep disturbance.
Treatment Many doctors take a minimalist approach, avoiding antibiotics and suggesting pain medicine -- but this is appropriate only for kids who can verbally express their discomfort level. Otherwise, antibiotics are prescribed.
Contagious factor Good news: ear infections are not contagious, unlike the colds that can lead to or accompany them.Vomiting and Diarrhea
Sometimes accompanied by fever, these icky conditions are most often caused by viruses invading the intestinal tract. Vomiting usually ends after 24 to 48 hours, but diarrhea can last a week or more.
Treatment Feed your child a bland diet (no spices or dairy foods) and lots of liquids. Pedialyte, which is full of important electrolytes, is a good choice in small and frequent servings.
Contagious factor Vomiting and diarrhea are spread by fecal bacteria, so wash your hands immediately after changing a diaper or cleaning vomit. If your child is throwing up, she is contagious from the first symptom until she feels completely better. With diarrhea or illnesses that involve both vomiting and diarrhea, contagiousness spans from the first symptom until stools are formed again. (If your baby wears a diaper, her stools should be firm enough so that they're not leaking.)
If your child has blood in her stools and a fever above 102 degrees F., she may have a bacterial infection. In this case, your doctor will collect a stool sample. Keep your child home until you have the results (this takes up to 72 hours); contagiousness can last for several weeks, even if she doesn't show any symptoms.Pinkeye
An infection of the lining of the eye and eyelids, it's characterized by redness, itching or pain, and eye drainage.
Treatment Pinkeye clears up fast. But getting antibiotic eyedrops into a toddler is not easy -- and you'll have to do this for an entire week.
Contagious factor It's one of the only illnesses a child can infect himself with. That's right! If your child has pinkeye in one eye, all it takes to spread it to the other is rubbing. But how did he get it in the first place? From direct contact with the germs that cause it, either by touching an infected person or an object handled by an infected person. At least contagiousness ends after just 24 hours treatment!Fifth Disease
This viral infection infects immune cells, causing a rash and a low-grade fever. The classic description is a "slapped cheek" appearance with bright red cheeks and a lacy, non-raised rash on the body.
Treatment There's really no specific treatment for fifth. It goes away on its own without antibiotics -- the fever within a few days and the rash within a few weeks.
Contagious factor You can't do anything to prevent spreading it or catching it. Kids who've been exposed may not show symptoms for up to two weeks, but they can be contagious for up to five days before showing symptoms. The most ironic part: by the time the red cheeks and rash appear, a child can no longer spread the infection.