Bedrest is no longer recommended for treating childhood illnesses. This is why:
- First: When children are sick, it is fine for them to choose their own level of activity. If they are feeling really badly, they will probably want to be in bed. Children naturally decrease their activity when they are sick. We forget to trust this natural instinct, because we know too many adults who go full speed ahead even when they are very sick.
- Second: The only medical conditions where bedrest is helpful are heart failure and respiratory failure. Obviously, children with these illnesses choose to remain in bed because of how badly they feel.
- Third: No evidence exists that enforced bedrest is helpful for common childhood illnesses. It doesn't reduce symptoms such as fever, despite the myth that children should stay in bed until their fever is gone. It doesn't help the body heal faster. It neither shortens the length of an illness nor does it prevent complications.
Finally: Enforced bedrest is impossible to achieve. If you insist that your child stay in bed and leave the room, when you return you may find him using the bed as a trampoline.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.