How can you help a child with a cold feel better?

As we talked about in yesterday’s post, cold and cough medications are not recommended for young children. But if your child feels miserable, what can you do?

To bolster my arsenal of symptom-relieving tricks (and to give my husband something else to do when he’s reaching for the cough syrup), I talked to the NNEPC hotline staff, did a little research and tried a few home remedies.

Humidifier: Putting a humidifier in your child’s room while they sleep can help relieve congestion. It can also help prevent colds because the cold virus thrives in dry air. Just make sure to keep the humidifier out of your child’s reach to prevent burns. And change the water every day to prevent mold growth.

Chicken noodle soup: Maybe Grandma was right? It’s very important make sure your child gets plenty of fluids when they are sick. Plus there’s lots of nutrition in the yummy vegetables and it will warm their little tummy.

Honey: Score another one for Grandma! Honey has long been thought to relieve sore throats—it turns out it might suppress coughs, too. Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine looked at the effectiveness of honey versus dextromethorphan. Parents rated their children’s cough and sleep quality after giving a dose of honey, DXM, or nothing before bed. Honey did better than both doing nothing and giving DXM. Start with a teaspoon. But don’t give honey to child under a year old. 

Nasal aspirator: If your kid’s mucus is goopy, suck it out. I know, its gross, and they hate it, but clearing those little nasal passages will help them breathe better. And if it’s dry and crusty and causing clogging, try softening it by putting over-the-counter saline drops in their nose before using the aspirator.

Chest rub: Using a mentholated rub on your child’s chest, especially before bedtime, can help them breathe a little better. Only use a rub that says it’s for kids on the package (these do not contain camphor).

Extra cuddle time: The positive health benefits of touch are being clinically confirmed time and time again. Snuggling with a blankie, a favorite stuffed animal and a parent can often be the best medicine of all.

Raising the head of their bed: This drains the mucus from their head and into their tummy and helps them sleep better. What works the very, very best (in my experience) is to put a pillow or book under the head of the mattress. Just make sure you have the pillow under the mattress, not in bed with them!

If you are worried, go ahead and call your doctor. Your doctor knows your child and will be able to help figure out if you should come in. They can also recommend a home remedy or suggest pain and/or fever reducing medicine if needed.

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