Taking care of children’s health needs is a big responsibility and sometime we all need a bit of help.

Families Information Service can help you find a range of information and advice to help you better understand your pregnancy and early parenthood. You can also find a wealth of information on the Doncaster Health Visitors webpage and our fabulous locally produced trying to toddling guide.

Both of these resources provide fantastic tips about:

Health Information for Parents

What to do if your child is unwell, including information about Chicken pox, Scarlet Fever, and Meningitis

Over the last few months, and as people have started to mix again after enhanced Covid 19 social distancing measures, we have seen an increase in other common, infectious childhood illnesses. This is not unexpected, and, although most children will begin to feel better after a few days away from school, on occasion they lead to more serious illness. There are also some infectious diseases that require medical advice and an antibiotic prescription.

General Information

Most common childhood illnesses like hand, foot and mouth, chickenpox, head lice and threadworms can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications. For some illnesses, children should stay away from school until they are no longer infectious. View the exclusion table for more information. You can also find information on a range of childhood illness at South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS) website.


Stock up your medicine cabinet with self-care essentials. Over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) can help relieve symptoms of common illnesses.


Your pharmacist can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and conditions. Many pharmacies are open late and over the weekend. Find a pharmacy near you.

NHS 111

If you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do, call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk. Both are available at all times.

GP practice

It’s still important to get help from appropriate member of clinical professional team at your GP practice, if you need it. When you contact your GP surgery, appointments may take place over the phone (you may be asked to text or email a photo if there is a rash) or in person.


Vaccinations will help protect children against a range of serious and potentially fatal diseases. It’s important your child has all their childhood vaccinations and if you or your child have missed a vaccine, contact your GP to arrange an appointment to catch up on any missed immunisations. Visit the NHS website for information on types of vaccinations and when to have them.

Information on Specific Illnesses (Chicken Pox, Scarlet Fever, Meningitis)


An itchy, spotty rash is the main symptom of chickenpox. It can be anywhere on the body. Chickenpox starts with feeling unwell, a rash and a slight temperature. Spots develop, which are red, itchy and become fluid filled blisters within a day or two. They eventually dry into scabs, which drop off.

How to treat chickenpox at home:

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Give your child paracetamol to help with pain and discomfort. Do not use ibuprofen unless advised to do so by a doctor, as it may cause serious skin infections
  • Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you are not sure which medicines to give your child
  • Help ease the itchiness with baths, loose comfortable clothes and cooling creams or gels.

To prevent spreading the infection, keep children off nursery or school, and away from public areas until all the spots have formed a scab.

View a full guide, with pictures of what chickenpox spots look like here.

Speak to your GP if you’re not sure it’s chickenpox or if you’re concerned about your child.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a contagious infection that mostly affects young children. The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck). A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later. The rash looks like small, raised bumps and starts on the chest and tummy, then spreads. It may be harder to see on brown and black skin, but you can still feel it. The rash makes skin feel rough, like sandpaper. Have a look what scarlet fever looks like here.  

Contact your GP practice as soon as possible if you think your child has scarlet fever. A GP can usually diagnose scarlet fever by looking at the rash and other symptoms, although a sample of saliva or a blood test might need to be done and tested to confirm the diagnosis. Scarlet fever is treated with antibiotics. If your child is ill again weeks after scarlet fever has cleared up, then contact your GP practice.

If your child has scarlet fever, they must stay away from nursery or school for 24 hours after they take the first dose of antibiotics.


Meningitis can affect anyone, but babies and young children are the most at risk. Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It’s important to be aware of all the signs and symptoms, as they can develop quickly. If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately.

In the early stages, there may not be a rash, or the rash may fade on pressure, do not wait for a rash to appear. Below is a list of common signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all:

Signs and symptoms of meningitis in babies and toddlers

  • Fever, cold hands and feet
  • Fretful dislike being handled
  • Rapid breathing or grunting
  • Unusual cry, moaning
  • Stuff neck, dislike bright lights
  • Refusing food and vomiting
  • Drowsy, floppy, unresponsive
  • Pale, blotchy skin - spots/rash
  • Tense bulging fontanelle (soft spot) 
  • Convulsions/seizures

Signs and symptoms of meningitis in children and adults

  • Fever, cold hands and feet
  • Drowsy, difficult to wake
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe headache
  • Dislike bright lights
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Pale, blotchy skin - spots/rash
  • Stiff neck
  • Convulsions/seizures

Take a look at the NHS page on meningitis symptoms which show what the rash might look like on different types of skin.

Children with meningitis and/or septicaemia can become seriously ill within hours. Trust your instincts – get medical help immediately if you are concerned. Viral meningitis can make people very unwell but is rarely life-threatening. Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia can kill, so urgent medical attention is essential. Most people make a good recovery, but many are left with debilitating after effects such as deafness, brain damage and where septicaemia occurs, limb loss.

A number of vaccinations are available that offer some protection against some types of meningitis.

For more information on the signs and symptoms visit the Meningitis now website.

Healthier Together

The Healthier Together website provides pregnant women, babies, children and young people across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw with consistent and high-quality advice from local health professionals. On the website, you can find clear information on common childhood illnesses, including advice on what 'red-flag' signs to look out for, where to seek help if required and how long your child's symptoms are likely to last. 

Sleep Clinics

Lots of families in Doncaster have benefited from getting really helpful information and advice from our local sleep clinics which take place at different venues around Doncaster. Here you can talk to a friendly worker who will help you and your child to get a better night’s sleep by offering workshops, clinics and written materials.

The National Sleep Helpline

If you or your child (over 12 months) is struggling with sleep issues then The National Sleep Helpline can help. Their team of specialist trained sleep advisors can talk through your issues, offer you some practical strategies and recommend services that could help. The helpline is open 5 times a week; Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7-9pm, and Monday and Wednesday mornings 9-11am. Call them today on 03303 530 541 (calls are charged at your standard network rate). 

Sleep Clinic Flyer
Download (3.01MB - PDF)

Children's Sleep eBook

The Sleep Charity have launched a new children’s sleep eBook for parents/carers which is freely available on their website. The eBook forms part of the ‘Tired of Being Alone’ campaign where parents and carers can know they’re not alone when it comes to having difficulties with their child’s sleep. Sleep issues are common but for many parents/carers it can be lonely, isolating and distressing when you have a child who just won’t sleep. There is still help available.

The Sleep Charity has partnered up with Dunelm to produce an eBook that explores why sleep is important, some of the more common reasons why children don’t sleep well and some really helpful advice on things parents/carers can do to improve their child’s sleep patterns.

You can read more here: Children’s Sleep eBook - The Sleep Charity

Parenting Programmes

We have a range of parenting programmes that offer opportunities to meet with other parents and address a whole range of issues and subjects related to parenting. You can also find a lots of fantastic information on the following websites:

Health Services

You can find lots of health services, including doctors, dentists, etc. on the NHS website.

Mental Health

If you're a parent of a younger child, aged 3-11 years, you can find lots of information and advice on how to support your child's mental health on the following webpage: Supporting your child's mental health.

If you are a young person who is looking for support for around mental health, or you are looking for information on how to support a young person with their mental health, you can find lots of helpful information on the following page: Young people's mental health - 'Don't put a filter on it'.

Children And Young People’s Local Support And Mental Health Services

Doncaster CAMHS

Doncaster Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provides advice and support to children / young people, their families / carers and professionals working with them. Where need is identified they also offer mental health assessments, therapy and interventions for children and young people. If you are concerned about a child / young person’s mental health, please contact the team, or make an online referral.

Tel: 01302 796191
Website: Doncaster CAMHS 


KOOTH is a digital mental health and wellbeing supporting service. Their website is safe, confidential, and anonymous way for service for young people and young adult to access wellbeing and early intervention mental health support, offering personalised support with short waiting lists and no thresholds

Website: KOOTH 

Doncaster LGBTQ+ Youth Support

Doncaster has a LGBTQ+ youth group where young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning+ can meet in a safe and welcoming environment. 

TeL 01302 737993
Email: LGBTQenquiries@doncaster.gov.uk
Facebook: Doncaster Youth Hubs
Twitter: @hubsyouth

Zone 5-19

Zone 5 to 19 is a health and wellbeing service for Doncaster children, young people and families.

Website: Zone 5 to 19

South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association

South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association offer support groups, discussions groups, befriending, talking therapies, guided self-help, and occupational therapy for young people aged 14+  with eating disorders.

Tel: 0114 272 8822
Website: South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association
Email: info@syeda.org.uk
Self-Referral Form: SYEDA Self-Referral Form 

Doncaster Rape & Sexual Abuse Counselling Service (DRASAC)

Doncaster Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service (DRASACS) aim to help people in the Doncaster Area who have suffered from these experiences. Their free and confidential services are available for:
  • Children and young people aged 18 or under, who have been raped or sexually abused
  • Adults who have experienced rape or sexual abuse, either recently or in their past
  • Family members who have been affected by the issue
Tel: 01302 341572
Website: DRASACS

Safer Sleep for Babies

The Lullaby Trust raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies and offers emotional support for bereaved families. You can visit their website for safer sleeping advice. The video below is one of the many helpful resources which The Lullaby Trust offers.

The Lullaby Trust has created a series of free online presentations for parents on how to reduce the risk of SIDS when caring for your baby.

For more useful information, please visit our directory.

FIS Homepage



Last updated: 19 April 2023 15:30:43

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