A friend told me that one-year-olds usually fall sick after a 1st birthday celebration especially if it is a big one. I refuse to believe that but coincidentally it happened to all my 3 kids. Two weeks before my baby YT was one, he was down with cough. So I thought after his first birthday celebration, he would be fine and I would proudly bust the myth.

Last Thursday, YT started to show signs of inactive which was never his usual self. Then he got low grade fever. Next, my kids called me at work to report that their baby brother had red spots on his palm. It sure sounds like the fearsome HFMD (Hand Foot Mouth Disease).

I hate HFMD, well, who likes? In fact just the day before, I was reading on a mum blogger on how she handled her child’s HFMD and was admiring her creativity in segregating her children. I did not expect I could put them in use so soon, but then as it was the other way round of segregating baby from my kids as opposed to her segregation of elder from younger, I couldn’t apply most of the tips she mentioned.

The first thing I did the next day was to bring baby to the doctor. He confirmed it was HFMD and suspected the virus was picked up from shopping centres or public places where he might have touched germs left behind by sick kids whose inconsiderate parents had brought them out. Usually, this disease is commonly spread in childcare centres. But Baby YT is taken care of at home, so we were surprised he got it when his siblings did not.

He had ulcers in his throat and mouth and red blisters on his palms, feet and joints. He had fever that came when the medicine wore off. He lost his appetite and it pained us deeply to see him losing his chubbiness. We gave him lots of fluids and he had to take anti-viral medicine and allergy medicine too. His immunity was low and the virus had caused his cough, runny nose and phlegm to flare up all at once. Poor baby!!

Poor YT with HFMD...

Poor YT with HFMD…

Next, come in trying to separate the older kids from the baby. This is an uphill task. I tried to explain to the kids that it is utmost important that they have to practise good hygiene and minimize contact with their baby brother. Then, I put a hand sanitizer in a corner of the house to remind them to sanitize their hands before eating or drinking. But it’s hard to remember sanitizing before touching their eyes, mouth or nose. Another good practice that I failed in implementing is sharing of food and drinks. It is common that our house shares food during meals and seldom uses a common server. I think it’s time to start this practice, but it is too late to implement at this critical time.

XX loves her baby brother very much and loves to carry him everywhere in the house. Her close contact with the baby is worrying as his mucous is everywhere and he salivates quite a lot since his mouth is painful. YH is more obedient in this sense but being a mischievous boy, he still puts pencils, dinosaurs’ tails, etc in his mouth! Unless I separate them in different houses, it is almost impossible to prevent contact with the baby. I can only hope that their immunity work in full force to combat the virus.

To make YT feel comfortable and help him in speedy recovery, I make sure he drinks lots of water. He seems to be very thirsty and I am glad he is able to swallow fluids. Since he has no appetite, I gave him milk for all his meals. I started to give him porridge with lots of water and little rice from day 2 for a meal and gradually increase to 2 meals the next day when he could finish half a bowl. When the older kids had HFMD last time, I gave them ice-cream to soothe the pain in their mouth. But for YT, I am hesitant since I have not let him try any sugary foods and fresh cow’s milk yet. For this period, I give him extra tender loving care and he is extremely clingy to me. And because of this, I have to compromise some quality time with my elder 2 kids.

I am equally concerned that I do not get infected too. I practise hygiene diligently and wash my hands very frequently. However, I still kiss YT, and am careful not to kiss his mucous and saliva stains. I breathe into his cough and breath when our faces are milimetres apart. I change into fresh clothes when his mucous and saliva stained my clothes. I do not wish to risk falling ill with HFMD. It would be really inconvenient for the whole family. That will mean, I cannot touch my kids, I cannot take care of them, they cannot touch me or be near me too. I cannot do house chores and prepare food. I cannot play with them or go out with them. There will be lots of things I cannot do for the family.

HFMD is expected to last for 7 days and any child who is down with this has to be off school for one week. It is expected that after a week, the infectious period will end. Today is day 5, I hope YT will recover quickly and be back to his usual chubby and happy self. And I cross my fingers that no one in the family will be infected.

Does your children have episodes of HFMD when they are young? How do you manage the separation from other kids?