Guest Author - Kris Bigalk
The most common winter illnesses are viruses – colds, influenza, and rotavirus. Unfortunately, antibiotics and other common drugs don't kill viruses. Most of the time, if your twins have a virus, a doctor will tell you that it has to "run its course." So, what do you do in the meantime?
The same virus can behave very differently in twins. For example, one child may have head cold, while the other child develops a cold in his chest; or, one baby may vomit and the other has diarrhea. While both twins probably have the same virus, it may become more serious in one than the other. If in doubt, take both twins to the doctor. See links at the bottom of the article for more info on what to watch for.
If one twin is needing extra attention at night or is crying incessantly and the other is either well or on the road to recovery, try changing sleeping arrangements to accomodate both children (and yourself). Take turns with your spouse getting up and attending to the children. If one twin is well enough to go to school and the other is not, and no one slept last night, who cares if the well twin gets to school a little late? Cut yourselves some slack!
Take Care of Yourself, Too
You can't take care of sick kids if you're sick yourself. Be sure to eat right, and if you're also feeling ill, get as much rest and fluids as possible. If you think you need help to take care of everyone, call in a friend or relative, or if no one is that brave, a nurse or personal care attendant. Check your local yellow pages for placement services for health professionals.
Sanitize, Clean, and Sanitize Again
Twins, especially baby and toddler twins, share everything. They suck on the same things, throw food at each other, you name it. If the twins are ill, germs are being spread from twin to twin, and often from twin to adult to twin. Rotavirus, for example, is spread when fecal matter is ingested by mouth, and is one of the most contagious viruses around. We'd all like to think that this type of transmission isn't possible in our homes, but when a baby has a blow-out diaper or throws up, we often end up tracking stuff around the house as we panic to clean up, soothe baby, and isolate other baby—especially if we have the bad luck to be all by ourselves when this happens! Be sure to promptly wash any contaminated clothing, bedding, towels, etc in hot water, using bleach if possible. Dry on the hottest setting the clothing will tolerate. Get out the disinfectant and sanitize the changing table area, diaper pail, wipes box, clothes drawer handles, doorknobs, toilet flusher, toilet seats, faucet handles, and washer/dryer controls.
To sanitize toys, wash in hot water and allow to air dry, or spray with disinfectant and let dry overnight. To minimize the work, you might want to limit the toys your twins play with while they are sick.
Taking care of one sick child is a challenge; taking care of two borders on craziness sometimes. Just remember, most illnesses don't last very long, and your twins will most likely be on the road to recovery soon!