Let Them Grow: Playing Sick

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Playing Sick

This has been the worst season for sickness. Well for me anyway, a first time mom with a toddler in daycare! It seems toddlers are the best and worst patients. They can ride out colds for months, in a steady stream of mucus. Or they can go under in a hail of fevers and vomit. Either way it is no fun for anyone.

After experiencing my own sick toddler, I began to think about how to smooth out the rivers of sickness that flood though our kids and find was to play sick.  Here are a few fun ways to pass the sick days away…


Making herbal tinctures and remedies can be a wonderful way to introduce health to your little ones. Experimentation is innate in all if us. We can’t help but to explore. Offering open-ended experiments is a fun way to explore the natural remedies around us. You may know an herbalist or two and really treat your child, but these suggestions are more for fun!

What to offer…

  • Pipette or Medicine dropper
  • Herbal or fruit extracts
  • Bitters
  • Water or soda water
  • Juice
  • Recycled droplet bottles

Regardless of how old a patient is making tinctures and remedies is fun and exciting. By letting your child experiment she can have her own experience. Tinctures can also help push those desperately needed fluids.

Sick Box

Another fun open ended activity is the sick box.  A sick box can have anything that can help you child feel better. If they are older maybe include lozenges, popsicles or snacks. But for the yonder toddlers, I think it’s fun to stay sensory oriented.

Sick Box Ideas

  • Tissue box ( to empty and re-fill and empty and re-fill)
  • Bulb squeeze
  • Medicine Dropper
  • Spoons
  • Medicine bottle with cereal bits inside
  • Doctor kit

Tea Party

Offering liquids to a defiant toddler can give good onsite of what it means to be a waitress to the rudest customers. On top of that it is heartbreaking because you know they are thirsty.

A fun way to offer liquids is a tea party. Offer a teapot of warm water or small bowl, a spot of honey and teacups. Your toddler can mix their own tea and pour cups all around. Pour bak and forth and experiment with the tea. Other additions can include:

  • Child sized tea-cups
  • Tea bags
  • Small brown of honey
  • Spoons
  • Slices of lemon
  • Saltines or biscuits
  • Napkins
  • Guest

Let your toddler experience making tea. Dipping the bag into the warm water, stirring the honey in and squeezing the lemon. All of these are amazing sensory experiences for your little one. Honey is a supposedly a great way to help sooth a cough and the tea will help hydrate and loosen mucus.

Stuffing Tea Bags

If you are having a tea party, why not make your own tea bags!
Using reusable tea bags, you and your child can make your own tea bag station. This is a sensory explosion of textures, smells and tastes! The bags can be saved if all the ingredients are dry. Some suggestions for fillings:

  • Mint leaves
  • Cloves
  • Dehydrated fruit
  • Hibiscuses
  • Lemon Peel dried

Young children may need help holding the bag open. If your ingredients are small enough you can use a small funnel to fill your bags.

Being sick is never fun. It can feel endless and hopeless at times. But, you can make it tolerable for you and your child by making sick time a sort of activity time.


Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.

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