Common ways to help children deal with a cold

Published in For the Health of It Author: Shauna Mullings, MBBS

Pediatrics
CentraCare Clinic – Health Plaza Pediatrics

While not fun for children or their parents, dealing with colds and upper respiratory viruses is part of growing up and building the immune system. Children often experience 6-8 upper respiratory infections each year. Viruses cause colds, so antibiotics will not help. But parents, there are still ways — beyond medicine — to help your child heal and be more comfortable. 

  • Steam therapy. The steam from a warm shower can loosen the nasal secretions and bring comfort from congestion. If the child doesn’t want to go in the shower, even sitting in the bathroom while the shower runs can benefit them.
  • Let the child cough. Coughing helps the child get the mucous out so that it doesn’t settle in their lungs.
  • Clear the nose. Encourage the child to blow their nose often and completely. Children tend to be especially congested when they wake up in the morning and after naps. For infants and toddlers, use a nasal bulb once or twice a day to help clear the nose.
  • Avoid cold medicine for children under two. The FDA has removed cold medicines from the shelves for young children. If the child is over the age of one, consider honey to coat a scratchy throat.
  • Push fluids. Encourage your child to drink during the day. Designate a special cup or water bottle and try to have them double their daily intake of fluids.
  • Sleep. Rest is very important for a child and even more so when they are sick.
  • Eat well. Choose fruits and vegetables of a variety of color and limit foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
  • Wash hands and frequently touched surfaces. This can help stop the spread of the virus to other family members.