Studies show that babies and kids can get as many eight or even 10 colds per year.
And since medical experts now advise against using over-the-counter cold medicines for kids under age six, parents are eagerly searching for safe ways to bring their little patients relief.
The common cold is an upper respiratory virus. Antibiotics, which are effective in treating bacterial infections, can’t cure a virus. In other words, a cold simply has to run its course, which usually takes about a week. Of course, it’s always your call when to see your pediatrician.
The good news is, there are a number of safe, drug-free ways you can alleviate your child’s cold symptoms. These may include a runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, mild fever (especially at night), loss of appetite, and irritability. Here’s our favorite natural and alternative ways to make sniffling, snuffling kids more comfortable.
Use a Nasal Aspirator
Aspirators clear out the gunk and relieve stuffed noses. As a faster alternative to bulb aspirators (which many babies and parents object to), consider a battery-operated version.
Use Saline Drops (with your pediatrician’s approval)
When mucus is thick, saline drops can be helpful. Place a few drops of pure saline solution (never medicated) in each nostril, and then immediately apply suction. This is especially helpful before meals, particularly for newborns, since it’s harder for babies to nurse when sinuses are clogged.
Run a Vaporizer or Humidifier
Steam liquefies mucus, loosening up congestion and making breathing easier.The (AAP) recommends using a cool-mist vaporizer around little ones for safety (if tipped over, a hot water vaporizer can cause burns). Or try our Waterless Vaporizer, which runs on pre-moistened aromatherapy pads. Similarly, letting kids safely breathe in the warm steam of a nearby hot shower may help. (Needless to say, never put little ones in the shower, and always stay with them around water.)
Offer Plenty of Fluids
Good hydration is always important (fluids keep the body functioning), but it’s absolutely essential when kids are sick, especially when they’re feverish.
Stir Up Some Chicken Soup
Our moms were right! Chicken soup, which has been used as a cold remedy since the 12th Century, really does offer medical benefits. A study at the University of Nebraska indicates that, in addition to the congestion relief provided by warm liquids, chicken soup may actually function as an anti-inflammatory. Besides that, it’s hydrating (not to mention comforting).
Take a Walk Outside
If it’s not too cold, take baby outside for a brisk walk around the block. The air may temporarily clear your child’s head and the change of scene might provide a welcome distraction.
Watch for Ear Infection
Ear infections can result from clogged sinuses, so be on the lookout for symptoms, such as pulling or tugging at the ears, crying, irritability, and sleeplessness.
Track that Temperature
If your child has any kind of fever, you’ll want to keep a close eye on it. When do you call the pediatrician? Ask your doctor for guidelines, which vary depending on your child’s age.
Relieve a Cough with Honey
It’s not safe to give honey to babies under 12 months. However, the (AAP) suggests trying honey to soothe an older child’s cough. Ask your pediatrician if he or she recommends it, and if so, how much to give.
While colds are not avoidable, there are things you can do to limit your child’s exposure to viruses. Remember, germs are often transferred through sneezing, coughing, or touching someone who is carrying particles on their skin. So…
- Wash your hands frequently and teach your child to do so as well. Building good hygiene habits early will serve your child well.
- If possible, try to avoid exposing young infants to large groups of people and public settings.
- Teach your child to avoid sharing cups, utensils, hand towels, etc. Giving your child their own “special” dinnerware and towels is one way to encourage this practice. Try our kid safe dinnerware to encourage them.
- Sanitize your child’s toys, teethers, and pacifiers regularly.
- Don’t hesitate to cancel play dates or activities when kids are sick.
On the bright side, once kids are exposed to a particular virus, they develop a natural immunity to it. So as kids mature and their immune systems develop, they will catch fewer and fewer colds. TLC-based strategies really can help kids feel better.
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
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