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Home Remedies for Kids' Winter Ills

Antibiotics don't work on colds and the flu, and many doctors have stopped prescribing them if your child has the sniffles. Try these doctor-recommended home remedies instead.

Other Home Remedies for Colds continued...

Menthol salves and rubs can make congested chests feel better. Alcohol rubs are not recommended anymore -- the fumes are too toxic. A plain backrub can be relaxing.

Have children with nasal congestion sleep on their sides. It keeps gunk from falling down their throats.

A cool mist vaporizer can ease discomfort. Forget the hot ones -- they can burn! You can add menthol or peppermint to the water.

Serve light snacks. Some "old wives" recommend no solid foods if fever is present, but both doctors laughed at this. "Let them eat whatever sounds good to them," Kemper says.

Be sure to push fluids -- ice water or juice, anything the child will drink. If the child isn't thirsty, try a Popsicle or two.

If your infant has croup, try a trip outside into the cold air for a few minutes. "So many parents think the child is about to die of croup and by the time they get to the ER, the time in the cold air and in the car have resolved it and the child is jumping around," Walls says.

Fever May Not Require Home Remedies

"Fever is a defense put up by the body," Kemper reminds. "The body is trying to reset the temperature to kill bacteria and viruses. It is a symptom, not something that needs to be cured." Acetaminophen will bring the temperature down, but that is not always necessary.

Cold baths also used to be used. Kemper discourages that now. "Let the fever work."

Walls agrees. "Fever is an ally," he says. "People used to believe it destroyed brain cells, but it doesn't. What about convulsions in children with high fevers? "If this is going to occur," Walls says, "it will be at the first fever spike. You won't have time to bring the fever down to prevent it."

Walls is more worried about the timing of the fever. At the onset the illness, it's probably OK, "If the child has the symptoms awhile and then develops a fever, call the doctor," he says.

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