Although over-the-counter cough and cold medications no longer are recommended for children under age 6 because of safety concerns and ineffectiveness, your child’s cold symptoms can be eased in other ways.
“The best thing is to make sure they drink lots of fluids and get a lot of rest,” says Dr. Devang Doshi, a pediatric allergist and pulmonologist at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. “Any noncaffeinated beverage is OK, including chicken soup,” he adds.
Here are some other ways to help your child feel better:
- Moisten nasal passages. Nasal saline sprays, drops, gels or mists can help prevent drying of the nose and cracking in the nasal lining that can cause bleeding, Doshi says. For infants, use a rubber bulb syringe to remove excess saline and mucus.
Petroleum jelly applied around the nose can prevent chafing and dryness caused by frequent wiping.
- Try a spoonful of honey. Research has shown that honey may help calm coughs, but honey should be used only for children older than 1 because there is a risk of rare but serious infant botulism in younger children.
- Treat a fever. Infant’s or children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen can safely treat a fever, Doshi says.
- Encourage naps. It’s hard to sleep at night when congested, so daytime naps can help kids reboot, says Dr. Gabrielle Gold-von Simson, a pediatrician at New York University’s Langone Medical Center in New York City. Elevate the child’s head with pillows to encourage mucus to drain.
See a doctor, she says , if your child shows signs of dehydration, such as infrequent urination, dry mouth or few or no tears when crying; has a fever for more than three or four days; is pulling at an ear; or has labored breathing.