Children are magnets for colds and viruses. But the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that over-the-counter cough and cold medications not be given to kids younger than 2, and studies have shown that cold and cough products don't work in kids younger than 6. So what's a desperate parent to do?
We've rounded up seven cold- and cough-fighting strategies to speed your child’s recovery — without the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.
Steamy air is an excellent way to help reduce congestion. Several Circle of Moms members recommend running a hot bath or shower and keeping your child in the steamy room for as long as possible. Others, like Melissa S., recommend a humidifier for making the air more moist: "What REALLY helps is a humidifier. The cold mist helps my daughter sleep SO much better, and it helps loosen [her] congestion."
2. Vapor Rubs
Applying a vapor rub to the chest and feet is another popular way to treat children's colds. As Claudia G. relays, "I rubbed Vicks VapoRub on her chest and feet and put socks on her at bedtime and during the day. That really worked for her. I could notice the difference after just one night of doing that."
3. Head Elevation
If your child is having trouble sleeping because of his cold, try elevating his head, says Stina B.: "My kids always had difficulty sleeping when they were stuffed up . . . I'd elevate the head of their beds with a pillow under the mattress." Jen M. agrees: "Use pillows so he is sleeping in almost a sitting-up position."
Staying hydrated is so important when fighting an illness. Many moms echo Hannah V.'s advice to give "lots of fluids." In addition to water, Janet M. recommends vitamin-packed orange juice. And don't forget warm, soothing liquids like chicken soup.
Honey shouldn't be given to children under the age of 1, but moms recommend honey as a cold remedy for older children. As Jen M. shares, "You can make a cough syrup with water, honey, and lemon juice. These help my son the most." The AAP also suggests a honey remedy for kids' colds: "Try half a teaspoon of honey for children aged 2 to 5 years, one teaspoon for children aged 6 to 11 years, and two teaspoons for children 12 years and older."
6. Saline Drops and Nasal Aspirators
Saline nose drops can be used to "clean out the sinuses" of children of any age. After the mucus is thinned and loosened, many moms recommend using a nasal aspirator like the Snotsucker to get it out, since most kids aren't yet pros at blowing their noses. Melissa B. shares: "I use saline nasal spray and a good old [fashioned] bulb syringe to suck it all out! It's non-pharmaceutical and it really helps break up the mucus."
7. Fever Medication
If your child has a fever, the AAP recommends acetaminophen for a baby 6 months or younger, and either acetaminophen or ibuprofen for a child older than 6 months. Enlist your doctor's help in determining the right dosage for your child, and always double-check the concentration on the bottle.
The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.