10 Ideas To Cheer Up Poorly Children

When Little is feeling poorly she gets more clingy and we spend lots of time cuddling on the sofa. She gets upset more easily and of course there is the constant snot. Why do children not like having their nose wiped with a tissue? And how are they so good at managing to wipe snot all over your shoulder or trouser legs as they cling to your leg preventing you from moving any where?

A black and white image of a sleeping child holding a parents hand with title text in front of it (10 ideas for cheering up poorly children with #VicksTricks

I guess it’s one of the disadvantages of being a little sister, but we hardly seem to get a break between one cold ending and the next one beginning. All those bugs being passed round the classroom come home to poor Little. And then there are all the toys that she plays with at toddler group which have been eaten or touched by numerous snotty children before her.

Big sister doesn’t get ill so often. 4 years at nursery has given her a pretty good immune system and since starting school last year she has only had mild doses of illnesses which have led to days off school for other children. When M is ill it often makes her grumpy, particularly if she has a cough which stops her sleeping. 

The first thing I do when a cold strikes is to get out medicine: paracetamol if there is a temperature or aches and pains, Vicks VapoRub* when a cold makes it hard to breathe or causes a cough and Vicks First Defence for me, because looking after poorly children is even harder work if I have a cold too (it really works, I've prevented or delayed colds with it lots of times).

The first thing M wants to do when feeling poorly (or any day with a “Y” in it) is watch TV. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of television, but I find it can make M even more cranky if she watches too much so with the help of #VicksTricks here are 10 other ways to cheer up poorly children.

Happy Food

There are parents out there who get creative with food every day (i’ve seen the evidence on Instagram and Pinterest), but I like to save these treats for special occasions and when the girls aren’t feeling well. None of us really fancy eating much when we are unwell, but arranging fruit into a smiley face or using cookie cutters on toast can be enough to put a smile on their face and tempt them into eating a little bit more.
2 pieces of toast in a dinosaur shape on a green plate
Let's make this cold extinct

Special drinks

Drinks can be a great way to build up little one’s energy again when they are unwell. Home made milkshakes, a smoothie or partially set jelly are all favourites in this house. I keep some banana chopped up in the freezer ready to throw in the blender with other fruit or milk to make soothing and refreshing drinks. Straws and cocktail umbrellas are an optional fun extra.


The best way to recover from illness is to rest. When I’m poorly I just want to sleep and stay in bed, but both my girls struggle to get to sleep at the best of times so they need a little help. Tricks I use to help sleep include: playing white noise or lullabies and reading stories designed to help children fall asleep (Like The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin). 

2 books (The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep and The Little Elephant Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin) on a grey pillow
No one can stay awake after hearing these stories *yawn*

Camp out on the sofa 

Making a special cosy nest on the sofa with the duvet encourages that must needed rest and means you can be near by. It also provides a great base for a number of ways to entertain poorly children.

A grey striped sofa with a young girl wearing a red dress sitting on it covered in a duvet
Snuggled under a duvet

Story Time

We love to snuggle together in bed or on the sofa and read stories. I find picture books are the best as it can be hard for poorly children to focus on lots of words so pictures keep them interested. 

Memory Lane

I have a big box of photo albums and we can spend hours going through them, talking about the people in the pictures and telling stories around the photographs. I always know when M is starting to feel a bit better as she starts asking more questions and sharing her own memories rather than just listening.

Put on a show

Who needs television when you can put on a show in your own home. Puppets can sing, dance and tell jokes. Guaranteed to put a smile on any little one’s face. 

A deer and an elephant finger puppets
Elephant: "what do you call a deer with no eyes?", Deer: "are you threatening me?" (correct answer: I've no idea/ no eye deer)

Perform some magic

Magic tricks are another great way to entertain poorly children and making them smile. Check out this video from #VicksTricks on a simple coin trick you can do with just a food bag and coins.


The best activities are those which will keep poorly minds engaged but not require too much energy or imagination. They should allow for breaks too as they might not be able to focus long enough to play a long game. Jigsaws are great for these occasions. I tend to pick jigsaws below M’s current ability level when poorly so they are quite easy to do and gives her a sense of achievement. I know M won’t do anything she finds a challenge if she is feeling poorly.

Play Doctors

If they are starting to feel better, but they aren’t quite ready to go out how about playing Doctors? First the patient is checked out to see how they are doing, then patient becomes Doctor and can check out Mummy, Daddy and all the dolls. 

Every one will be feeling better in no time.

*Vicks VapoRub is for 2 years upwards
**This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign with Vicks and Britmums**


  1. Lovely ideas, my son has been off school all week with a nasty gastro upset. It's his first day really eating proper food, it's been a long haul and I wish I'd seen this at the start of the week! Essential reading for mums with poorly kiddies stuck indoors right now, thanks

    1. Oh no, I'm sorry he's been so unwell. I hope he is back to normal very soon.
      Thank you for your lovely comments.

  2. This is exactly what I needed to read today. My 3 year old daughter had a high temp of 38/39 all day. I felt so guilty for giving her the iPad and TV most of the day because she refused to have a rest in bed. I'm going to try the cut out foods and the puppet show tomorrow. She's got a Vicks vaporizer machine on now at night while she sleeps, finally.

    1. It's so hard when they aren't feeling up to much. Wishing you both a good night and hopefully she'll feel better soon

  3. Love the dinosaur toast! We have a smile face toast press which I had as a child - never fails to cheer the girls up!

    1. Happy toast sounds like a great way to start the day

  4. Love the toast! Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

  5. Aw this is so lovely! Especially lvove the toast and the puppets. Any excuse to make atupid noises with james haha xx

    1. One of the best parts of being a parent is the excuse to be silly

  6. Love the toast! We're all full of cold at the moment - it only my daughters would allow for duvet days! ox

  7. We've been battling with an ear infection the past couple of days so cuddles, nibbles & books have all been on the cards for us too. Fab ideas thanks for such questions great post! Xx

  8. Oooo I think I will be using some of these we have had weeks of been poorly and it sucks. I for sure will be trying the dinosaurs.


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