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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Cough, Cold Drugs Not for Kids Under 4

Voluntary Label Change Says Don't Give Over-the-Counter Pediatric Cough and Cold Medicine to Children Younger Than 4
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Don't Use Products to Make Kids Sleepy

Don't use over-the-counter pediatric cough and cold drugs containing antihistamines to sedate or make a child sleepy. Pediatric cough and cold drugmakers are voluntarily adding language to that effect to the label of products containing certain antihistamines.

The CHPA is also stressing these key points to parents, caregivers, and health care providers:

  • Follow the dosing recommendations exactly and use the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • Do not give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.
  • Do not use two medicines at the same time that contain the same ingredients.
  • Prevent unsupervised ingestions by keeping all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Do not use antihistamine products to make a child sleepy.
  • Consult a physician or health care professional with questions.

What Can You Give Kids?

If over-the-counter cough and cold drugs are off limits for kids younger than 4, what can you give those children?

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

  • Keep kids hydrated.
  • Reduce the child's fever using appropriate medication (check with a doctor).
  • Consider using honey for coughs or sore throat for kids older than 1.
  • To ease congestion, consider using saline nasal drops or a humidifier, and keep the child's head elevated when resting (tuck a rolled-up towel under the crib mattress for small kids, and between the mattress and box spring for older children).

Of course, parents should seek medical care as needed and not hesitate to ask questions.

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