Ugh, it is officially cold and flu season in our house, as both my daughter and I are snuffly, sneezing, mouth-breathing messes. I swear we can’t even look in the direction of our pediatrician’s office without all getting sick- that waiting room is a petri dish! But as much as I hate having a cold, I hate my daughter having one even more because there isn’t a whole lot I can do to make it better. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold, and it just has to run its course (which can take anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks). Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warn against giving any over-the-counter cold or cough medicine to children under the age of 2- and there are even studies that suggest that OTC meds are ineffective for children under the age of 6. So what’s a parent to do?? Here are some good, old fashioned home remedies that are safe for tots and will help bring some relief to your snot-bubble-blowing little one (no one else? just my kid? well ok.):
1. Honey (for children 12 months and older ONLY) Honey helps to soothe sore throats and gets coughs under control. You can mix a teaspoonful in warm water with a bit of lemon, or try it in warm (but not hot) decaf chamomile tea if your baby is over 6 months old.
2. Chicken Noodle Soup I know, you thought this was just a old wives’ tale, right? Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center discovered that the nutrients in chicken noodle soup have anti-inflammatory properties that make it the perfect food to help fight upper respiratory congestion. Plus, it helps keep your little one hydrated, which leads me to. . .
3. Plenty of Fluids Not only do you need to keep your child hydrated, but extra fluids (whatever they may be- water, juice, Pedialyte, Gatorade, milk, etc.) can help to thin out and flush nasal mucus.
4. Humidifier Run a cool-mist vaporizer or a steamy shower to help break up congestion and ease a cough. Steer clear of warm-mist humidifiers- they pose a burn risk if your little one gets too close and knocks it over).
5. REST Children need lots of rest to help fight off infections. And unfortunately, sleep isn’t the easiest thing to come by when your baby is stuffy and hacking up a lung- for you or him. I know the AAP recommends no TV for children under the age of 2, but if there’s any time to whip out the Elmo videos, now would be the time. Do whatever it takes to help your baby get the rest he needs to heal.
6. Saline and Aspirator Ahhh my two best friends these days. Having cold liquid squirted up their noses and then having their snot noisily sucked out by a large, usually colorful, object doesn’t always go over well with little ones. But if you can manage it, using saline drops and an aspirator is the quickest way to clear out a stuffy nose. Just make sure you have tissue on hand. The aspirator the hospital gave us is still to this day the best one we’ve found.