There may be no easy fix to cure your toddler’s cold, but there are things you can do to help them get through the long days (and yours)! Here are a few recommendations shared by our pediatrician, but you should always take the advice of your own pediatrician first. These are just meant to be helpful guidelines.
Cough and cold medicines can cause serious side effects in young children. In 2008, the FDA recommended they never be used under 2 years of age. In October 2008, they supported changing the cutoff to 4 years of age. Fortunately, you can easily treat coughs and colds without these over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. You can treat your child’s symptoms with the following helpful home remedies.
- Hot water with honey and lemon
- Chicken soup
- Vitamin C and Zinc supplements (best to eat your vitamins when possible!)
- Nasal saline rinses
- Herbal cough and cold honey-based medicine
- Steamy shower
- Vicks Vapor Rub or essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, cloves, lemon)
Just suction it or blow it. And remember, when your child’s nose runs like a faucet, it’s getting rid of viruses. It’s a good thing!
Use nasal washes, saline nose drops or saline spray to loosen up the dried mucus, followed by blowing or suctioning the nose. If not available, warm water will work fine. Put 2-3 drops in each nostril. Do one side at a time, and then suction or blow. Repeat the nasal wash until it runs clear. Do nasal washes whenever your child can’t breathe through their nose.
TIP: For infants on a bottle or breast, use nose drops before feeding.
Saline nose drops and sprays are available in all pharmacies. To make your own, add ½ teaspoon of table salt to 1 cup of warm tap water.
For children under 1 year of age, only use warm clear fluids (ie. apple juice) to help ease the symptoms of a cough. You can give your child 1-3 teaspoons (5-15 mL) four times per day when coughing. Avoid honey because it can cause infantile botulism. Under 3 months, see your child’s doctor.
Over 1 year of age, use ½ to 1 teaspoon (2 to 5 mL) of honey as needed. It thins the secretions and loosens the cough. Recent research has shown that honey is better than drugstore cough syrups at reducing the frequency and severity of nighttime coughing.
Over 6 years of age, use cough drops to coat the irritated throat. If not available, use hard candy.
TIP: For coughing spasms, put your child in the bathroom (or in the shower) where the warm mist from a shower can help them breathe better.
Help your child drink plenty of fluids. Staying well hydrated thins the body’s secretions, making it easier to cough and blow the nose.
If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier. Moist air keeps the nasal mucus from drying up and lubricates the airway.
Avoid Tobacco Smoke
Active or passive smoking makes coughs and nasal congestion worse.
In summary, home remedies work better than over-the-counter medicines for treating coughs and colds. And you won’t be fighting with your toddler to take a spoonful of honey!
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