We guarantee that at least once this summer your kid will: eat too much ice cream, soak up too much sun, and sneak serious amounts of soda. Here's how to help when he goes overboard.
boy stuffing his face
Credit: Ronnie Andren

Treat Overload

Oops! When you picked up your child from his friend's birthday party, he was clutching his stomach. Seems that third helping of cake and ice cream wasn't such a great idea after all.

The Fixes

  • Keep his diet simple for the rest of the day. Avoid soda (which causes gas) and milk (which will be too filling on top of all that sugar).
  • Skip meds. "Pain relievers may upset your child's stomach even more," says Mark Widome, MD, MPH, Parents advisor and professor of pediatrics at Penn State Children's Hospital, in Hershey. Avoid antacids also: "The problem isn't too much stomach acid, it's too much cake!"
  • Stay close to home if you can. Your child might have diarrhea or throw up (just once or twice), so you don't want to be far from a bathroom.
girl yelling
Credit: Ronnie Andren

Wired & Overtired

Oops! Your child refused to nap at Grandma's house because she didn't want to miss a thing. Now she's whiny, cranky, and, of course, too tired to sleep.

The Fixes

  • Limit stimulation. Turn down the lights, close the shades, bring out Teddy, and snuggle. "Pull out all your comfort standbys," says Vivian Lennon, MD, medical director of primary care at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
  • Give her a warm bath. It's relaxing, and if your child is used to taking a bath before bed, it will cue her that it's time to sleep.
  • Put her down for a nap -- but don't call it a nap. Just let her lie on the couch in front of the TV and wait for her to drift off, suggests Dr. Widome. If it's before dinner, she'll likely take a 20-minute power nap. If it's closer to bedtime, you can move her to her room once she's asleep.

Sunshine S.O.S.

Oops! You didn't rub enough sunblock onto your child's skin on your family's trip to the zoo. Now his skin is red and sizzling hot.

The Fixes

  • Cool his skin with a room-temperature bath or compresses, says Andrea McCoy, MD, medical director for Temple Pediatric Care, in Philadelphia.
  • Apply a soothing cream or gel, preferably one containing aloe. Avoid greasy ointments (they tend to hold heat in) and products with alcohol, which can sting.
  • Call your doctor if your child develops a fever or blisters -- signs of a second-degree burn (most are first-degree).

Soda Frenzy

Oops! You and your friend held a playdate at her house, and the kids snuck all the soda they wanted while you chatted. Now your child is overcaffeinated and talking a mile a minute.

The Fixes

  • Wait it out. "There's a saying in pediatrics: 'Don't just do something, stand there!'" says Dr. Widome. "Time solves a lot of problems, and caffeine overload is one of them." The caffeine will leave her system in four to five hours. While you wait for your child to quiet down, put on a calming DVD or music.
  • Obviously, avoid all other products containing caffeine for the rest of the day: chocolate, soda, tea, and some pain relievers (check the ingredient list).

Nervous Nibbling

Oops! Your child bites his nails way too short. Now his fingers are a raw, red mess.

The Fixes

  • Apply an antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin) to soothe and protect the skin. "Constant biting puts your child at risk for infection, so it's important to try to stop it quickly," says Dr. McCoy. If you notice any swelling, lesions, or pus, call your doctor. Your child may have paronychia, a fairly common infection resulting from biting or picking at the nails.
  • Keep his fingers busy. Let him play with a squishy ball or rubber band when he's watching TV or doing homework, and whenever else he tends to nibble his nails.
  • Use barriers to prevent more biting as he heals. Try bandages in fun prints, nail polish for girls, or yucky-tasting creams such as Control-It! or Thum!
Boy with wet hair
Credit: Ronnie Andren

Super-Soaked Playdate

Oops! Your child has been running around on a blisteringly hot day with his friends, and now he's exhausted and soaked in sweat.

The Fixes

  • Sweating is a good sign -- it means he probably doesn't have heat stroke, though he may have heat exhaustion, which is less serious. "Take your child into an air-conditioned area for the rest of the day," says Dr. Lennon. Bring down his body temperature with cool compresses.
  • Get him hydrated. Offer diluted grape juice or Gatorade, or plain water -- whatever your child will drink. Give him 8 ounces to start, and then as much as he wants to satisfy his thirst.
  • Call your doctor if the symptoms don't start to pass within 15 minutes. If your child's temperature doesn't come down or it rises to 105 degrees F., get emergency treatment.

Copyright © 2007. Reprinted with permission from the July 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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