Nine natural ways to soothe your child's cold
Your kid's coughing, sneezing, feverish. It used to be easy: Reach for cough-and-cold medicine. But now drug companies and healthcare providers agree you shouldn't give these over-the-counter drugs to children younger than 4 years, and the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether they're safe for older kids.
Your pediatrician may recommend a fever reducer such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (but never aspirin). But what about your kid's other symptoms? Try these drug-free cold symptoms soothers:
Rest. Encourage plenty of sleep. Keep kids quiet and rested in bed or on the couch by occupying them with games, reading, coloring, TV or videos. Elevate your child's head with an extra pillow, or put a pillow, wedge or rolled-up towels beneath the head of the mattress.
Fluids. Offer lots of caffeine-free liquids. Add lemon to hot water or herbal tea. Honey is unsafe for infants, but you can give half a teaspoon to children ages 2 to 5 years, 1 teaspoon to children ages 6 to 11 years and 2 teaspoons to those 12 years and older, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics Seems that honey has natural antibiotics that might even fight sinus infections. Frozen juice pops can soothe a sore throat. A warm bowl of chicken soup may also be comforting.
Humidity. To ease congestion, try putting a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer in your child's bedroom, or have the child spend time in a steamy bathroom.
Gargling. Gargling with salt water can bring relief to a sore throat. Stir about half a teaspoonful of salt in a glass of warm water. Older kids can learn to gargle, but don't try this with little ones, who may swallow the salt water.
Petroleum jelly. Dab a bit around the nose and lips to relieve raw areas.
Steam therapy. Put 4 drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your child's head and have them lean over the bowl and inhale for a few minutes. Breathing through the nose clears nasal passages and loosens mucus that can be cleared by blowing the nose. Breathing through the mouth clears chest congestion. Other oils that can be used in steams include menthol, camphor, rosemary, thyme and pine.
Chest rubs. Commercial eucalyptus, camphor, menthol and herbal rubs are available. They may help kids feel as if they can breathe more easily. Follow the package's instructions and age recommendations, typically 3 months and older.
Lozenges. Cough drops and lozenges can soothe the throat of a child 4 years or older but are a choking hazard for younger kids.
Nasal irrigation. For clogged nasal passages, older kids might tolerate a saltwater sinus wash with a gadget called a neti pot. Here's how to use a neti pot. For younger children and babies with stuffy noses, you can use saline nose drops and a bulb syringe.