Cold Remedies for Infants and Toddlers:
Even for children not in daycare, having a cold once a month can be quite common. But, now with infant cold preparations off the market for children under 2 years of age and with new warnings that children’s cold remedies should not be used in children under 6 years old, unless advised by a doctor, what can parents do to ease the symptoms of a sick child?
For fevers, aches and pains, Tylenol, also known as acetaminophen, and Motrin, whose generic name is ibuprofen, is still available and considered safe for children and infants. These can be given according to the directions on the bottle. If your pediatrician advises using a cold preparation medication, make sure when using these medications that they do not contain the same active ingredient as any other medicine you are giving to your child. For example, many combination medications also contain acetaminophen. You cannot give Tylenol for fever and then a combination medication containing acetaminophen or Tylenol within the same 4-6 hours. Make sure to read the active ingredients of all medications you give your child.
For a troublesome cough, honey has been shown to be an effective cough suppressant. In a study published in December of 2007 in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, buckwheat honey was compared with dextromethorphan, the common cough suppressant used in children’s cold medications. Honey was found to be as effective as dextromethorphan. Yet as the authors point out, honey is considerably safer. In addition to its cough suppressant properties, honey is also known to have antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. Honey should not be given to children less than 1 year of age, as it is not safe for them to eat. But, for children older than one year, a teaspoon of honey can be tried to alleviate cough. In the study, it was given a half an hour prior to bed and was found to help with both cough and sleeping difficulty.
For congestion, a bulb suction can help relieve a stuffy nose. When using a bulb suction, it is important not to suction too aggressively. Aggressive suctioning can lead to trauma and swelling of the inside of the nose making it even more difficult for the child to breath and clear nasal mucus. The tip of the bulb suction should be placed right inside the opening of the nose and not up against the wall of the nose. A drop of saline can be used in the nose to loosen up the mucus right before suctioning.
Another way to relieve congestion in children over the age of 1 is with steam. Steam up the shower and then shut off the hot water before getting in with the child, so as to be sure not to burn your child. Do not allow the child to stay in the steam for more than 5 minutes and make sure to keep the child well hydrated once out of the shower. If the child is having trouble keeping down liquids, then do not use steam to help with congestion as he cold become dehydrated. Older children can place their head over a steaming pot of water. It is best to transfer the steaming water to a new pot before placing the child’s face over the water so as to avoid the child burning himself on the hot pot. Do not leave the child unattended while steaming as hot water can also burn and, of course, allow the child to get out of the shower or stop steaming his face at the first sign of discomfort.
In the end, a cold or virus is just going to have to run its course but while waiting for it to do so the above options may provide a little relief for your little one.