Treating Colds in Children
Call 911 if:
- Your child has difficulty breathing.
There's no way to cure your child's cold, but you can help relieve the symptoms that make your baby or toddler uncomfortable.
Call Doctor If:
- Your child has a cold and is 3 months or younger.
- Your child has a severe cough.
- Your child has ear pain.
- Symptoms don't get better after 10 to 14 days.
1. Clear Out Mucus
- Use an infant nasal bulb, or aspirator, to suck mucus from your baby's nose.
- If your child is able, have her blow her nose regularly.
2. Add Moisture
- Use a saline spray to moisten the nasal passages.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier if the air is dry.
- Sit in the bathroom with the hot shower running and have your child breathe in the steam.
3. Give Fluids
- If your child is over 3 months, offer apple juice or water. Hydration helps to loosen mucus.
- Older children can have warm soups and other drinks.
4. Treat Fever and Pain
- You don't need to treat a fever unless it is making your child uncomfortable.
- If your child is older than 6 months, you can give children's-formula acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever. Don't give aspirin to children younger than 16 years old.
- Follow the dosing instructions on the medication. Use a formula that's made for children, not adults.
- Never use a cold or cough medicine in kids under age 6 unless a pediatrician suggests it.
5. Treat Other Symptoms
- If your child is over age 1, try 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey for cough.
- Raising the head of your child's bed may help relieve congestion.
- Rub petroleum jelly under the nose to prevent chapping.
- Avoid irritants, such as cigarette smoke.
- Be patient. Colds usually last one to two weeks and clear on their own.