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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Cold and Cough Home Remedies for Children: What Works?

Is honey OK for a cough? Should children with a cold avoid thick fluids like milk? WebMD asked the experts.
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Fluids

Make sure children stay hydrated, and give them what they’re accustomed to drinking. For babies, stick to breast milk or formula for those younger than 6 months. An oral electrolyte solution designed for infants, such as Pedialyte, also can be given. Don’t give straight water to babies younger than 6 months; their kidneys can’t process it correctly and an electrolyte imbalance may occur.

For children older than 12 months, try water, diluted juice, and milk.

Sometimes parents hear that they shouldn’t give milk because it promotes mucus building. That’s an old wives’ tale with no scientific evidence to back it up, Geraghty says. It’s especially important for babies to continue drinking breast milk or formula.

Fever

For a baby younger than 3 months, check with a doctor.

For babies ages 3 to 6 months, talk to your child’s doctor about using infant acetaminophen and ask for the correct dosage. Make sure to use the measuring cup or spoon included with the medicine. Household measuring spoons may not measure accurately, resulting in an overdose.

For children 7 months and older, try acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with the doctor for the right dosage. Read bottles and packages carefully to make sure you’re giving the right dose. Infant drops and children’s liquid fever reducers come in different strengths. Make sure you’re giving the right kind and the correct amount.

Aspirin should not be used because of the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome, a serious illness that can damage the brain and liver.

If an infant younger than 3 months has a temperature, taken rectally, that is higher than 100.4 degrees, check with your doctor or go to an emergency room immediately. In young infants, this could be a sign of a serious infection. Also, consult a doctor if a child older than 3 months has a temperature higher than 104 when taken rectally.

If for some reason you are unable to take a rectal temperature, you may use a special thermometer to take a temperature in your baby's arm pit. This is called an axillary temperature. You pharmacist, doctor or doctor's nurse can explain how to do this. Keep in mind an axillary temperature will be 1 to 1.5 degrees lower than a temperature taken rectally because it's taken outside the body.

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