Minor illness and knowing if it is serious

We are entering the flu & bronchiolitis season!

Flu can be horrible for young children, and they can spread it to others who are more vulnerable, like their grandparents. That’s why children aged 2 or 3 (before September 2023) are eligible for a free flu nasal spray vaccine. Keep your children safe from flu this winter and help stop the spread by getting them vaccinated.

Info on flu vaccine for children

A common childhood winter illness is Bronchiolitis and RSV. It is more common in children under 2. Some children can become poorly with this and be admitted into hospital – there is further information on the signs of this illness and when to seek medical help here:

Bronchiolitis – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Bronchiolitis and RSV :: Healthier Together (what0-18.nhs.uk)

Please see the following information on Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) from our NHS colleagues in Doncaster & Bassetlaw

Know the signs and symptoms of RSV – Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (dbth.nhs.uk)

Winter illnesses in children:

Colds, coughs and ear infections in children – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Strep A

Strep A (Group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection, is presently on the rise in the UK, particularly in children under 10. These are bacteria that can cause illnesses such as scarlet fever, tonsillitis (throat infection) and impetigo (skin infection). While most of these are usually mild illnesses that can be easily treated with antibiotics, the bacteria is highly infectious. A small proportion of children can go on to develop serious infections.

If you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement and contact NHS 111 or your GP if:

  • your child is getting worse
  • your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
  • your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • your child is very tired or irritable

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • Your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.

For further information see here: How to spot the signs and symptoms of Strep A infection :: North Cumbria Integrated Care (ncic.nhs.uk)

General Information

Chat Health: Health for Under 5s | For healthy, happy early years

Healthier Together is a new website for parents and carers in Oxfordshire, providing information from local healthcare professionals about what might be wrong. Using an easy-to-follow traffic light system, you’ll find clear information on common childhood illnesses, including what signs to look out for, when and where to seek help if required, what you should do to keep your child comfortable and how long your child’s symptoms are likely to last. The website also has a translation tool, a directory of local services to support your family’s health and wellbeing, as well advice on whether your child should go to nursery when they have a virus or infection. Parents can also download the Healthier Together App, using a self-assessment tool, the app guides you to the most appropriate healthcare provider depending on your child’s symptoms and gives the option to contact them directly from the app.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have parent information sheets for a wide range of childhood illnesses here: Safety netting & parent info sheets :: Healthier Together (what0-18.nhs.uk)


Children can get coronavirus (COVID-19), but it’s usually a mild illness and most get better in a few days.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in children – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Institute of Health Visiting: Parenting through COVID

Common childhood illnesses

Breathing difficulties

Wheeze-and-breathing-difficulties: Institute of Health Visiting

Chicken Pox

Chickenpox: Institute of Health Visiting


Constipation in children – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

D & V

Diarrhoea & vomiting: Institute of Health Visiting


Managing-atopic-eczema Institute of Health Visiting


Fever & high temperature: Institute of Health Visiting


Head injuries

Head injury: Institute of Health Visiting


Measles don’t let your child catch it

Nappy rash

Nappy rash – NHS (www.nhs.uk)


Rashes :: Healthier Together (what0-18.nhs.uk)

Serious childhood illnesses

NHS Is your child seriously ill?: Is your baby or toddler seriously ill? – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

The NHS also have valuable information on spotting signs of serious illness


Meningitis – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Meningitis Symptoms – Signs of Meningitis | Meningitis Now


Recognising-Sepsis: Institute of Health Visiting

First aid

First aid – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Skin to skin contact and how it helps when your baby is unwell: Skin-to-skin contact – Baby Friendly Initiative (unicef.org.uk)

How to get help

NHS 111: NHS 111 online

When to call 999

When to call 999 – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Page last reviewed: 20 October, 2023