Skip to content

    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    Select An Article

    Kids' Cold Medicines: Guidelines

    (continued)
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Should my child use kids' cold medicine?

    The current recommendations from the FDA are:

    • Do not use cold and cough medicines in children under age 4 unless advised by your doctor.
    • Never give adult medicines to children. Only use medicines designed for children.
    • Never use a cold or cough drug if your child takes other prescription or over-the-counter medicines, unless you’ve checked with the doctor first.
    • Carefully follow the instructions for dosing on the box.
    • Use the enclosed measuring spoon, dropper, or dosing cup.
    • Take your child to the doctor if symptoms worsen or don’t improve within a few days.

    Also, many experts say that parents should go further and stop using any kids’ cold medicine in children under age 6 unless their doctors recommend it.

    In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics called on the FDA to make such a recommendation. In addition, the AAP asked that OTC cold/cough medicine manufacturers to use weight-based rather than age-based dosing recommendations, saying weight is more accurate for determining the correct dose of a drug. The AAP also asked that dosing devices have a flow-limiting capacity to prevent against overdose.

    What can I give my kids for a cold or cough?

    Nothing cures a cold, but pediatricians say these strategies may help:

    • Call the child's doctor right away if he is three months of age or younger at the first sign of an illness.
    • Reduce the child's fever using appropriate medication (check with a doctor), such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Do not use ibuprofen in children under age 6 months or if your child is vomiting or dehydrated. Do not use aspirinwith any child because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
    • Consider using honey for coughs or sore throat for kids, but only if they are older than age 1.
    • Try saline drops or spray to clear thick mucus out of your child's nose.
    • Give your child plenty of liquids to increase hydration and help thin mucus.
    • Use a humidifier in your child's room to add moisture to the dry air.
    • If your child wheezes, call your doctor. Other treatments may be needed to help open airways.
    • To ease congestion, keep the child's head elevated when resting.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
     
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
     
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    Slideshow
    cold weather
    VIDEO
     
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Article
    Boy holding ear
    Slideshow
     
    woman receiving vaccine shot
    Article
    woman with fever
    Article
     
    Waking up from sleep
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Slideshow