Caring for Your Child's Cold

Being sick isn't fun for anyone, but children need special care when they have even mild seasonal colds and coughs. Making them as comfortable as possible is often the best prescription. Below are some simple ways you can help soothe their symptoms. Remember to consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions about how to treat your child’s cough and cold.

For children under 4 years of age: Using over-the-counter cough and cold medicines is not recommended. Talk to your doctor about other ways to treat your child’s cold. Single-ingredient pain relievers and fever reducers such as Infants’ and Children’s TYLENOL® and Infants’ and Children’s MOTRIN® are options you can use to reduce your child’s fever and ease aches and pains associated with a cold.

For children ages 4 years and over: Over-the-counter children’s cough and cold medicines are safe and effective when used as directed. Be sure to carefully read and follow the entire product label including dosing instructions.

For children of any age:

Make sure they get enough rest. 

Sleep is essential for recovery. A cool mist humidifier or vaporizer placed in your child's room can moisten the air and help ease your child's congestion and coughing, making it easier for them to relax. Be sure to clean the humidifier often to avoid spreading germs.

Keep the fluids coming.

When children are sick, sore throats and stuffy noses tend to make them breathe through their mouths. This can cause dry mouth and dehydration. So make sure your child gets plenty of fruit juices, herbal teas, and water.  Steam from warm liquids can also help relieve stuffy noses and soothe sore throats.

Clear stuffy noses.

Regardless of age, try to keep your child's airways as clear as possible. An older toddler can be taught to blow his or her nose. If your child is too young, use some saline drops (ask your pediatrician for a recommendation) and a nasal aspirator. Start by placing a few drops of 

saline in each nostril. Wait a few minutes. Squeeze the aspirator bulb and then gently put the rubber tip into one nostril. Slowly release the bulb to remove excess mucus. Repeating these steps before meals and at bedtime can make your child more comfortable while eating and sleeping.

Draw a warm bath.

A bath can provide temporary fever relief. It can also be a great distraction. Run a lukewarm bath once, twice, or even three times a day, and let its soothing powers take over. If your child begins to shiver, take them out of the bath.

Stay close.

When children are sick, they often feel frightened or worried. This means that what your child may want most of all is to be near you. Simply letting a child lie in your arms or propping her on a couch where she can watch you may be more restful for her than being alone in a bedroom.