My son goes to daycare two times a week, and as a result, he constantly has the sniffles. Occasionally, the sniffles turn into a full-blown cold like they did last weekend. It was miserable. My poor little guy couldn’t sleep at all. The first time he had a bad cold, I called his pediatrician in desperation, sure that she’d be able to help us out. “Isn’t there anything you can do?!” I asked. “Can’t I just give him some decongestant or something?” Turns out, that’s a big no-no. The FDA strictly warns against administering cough and cold medicines to children under the age of 2. And my pediatrician won’t even advise it for kids younger than four.
If cough and cold meds are out of the question, what can you do to help your sick guy or gal feel better? Here are some methods to soothe a stuffy nose and get your baby or toddler back in tip-top-shape faster than you can say “Sudafed.”
Utilize bathroom steam
For instant relief, give your baby a warm bath. The warm, humid atmosphere is sure to provide the very best relief for a stuffy nose, even if it only lasts an hour or two. My son got his very first cold at just five or six weeks old, so I used to strap him into his car seat so that he could sit in the bathroom with me while I showered. The steam from my shower would ease his congestion while he slept comfortably – and as a bonus, I got a few minutes of peace and quiet for myself!
Use nasal drops
Giving Keenan his saline nasal drops usually involves some acrobatics where I hold him upside down between my knees, pinning his hands down with my left hand while using my right hand to squeeze the drops in. As difficult as they may be to give to a squirmy toddler, nasal drops really do wonders for halting congestion. Just be sure to buy the saline kind instead of the medicated kind when you’re purchasing nasal drops, because the medicated ones aren’t baby-safe.
Set up a humidifier
Dry air is one of the worst culprits for congestion and sore throats. A cool-mist humidifier can provide relief for your whole household. Warm-mist humidifiers do the same thing, but if you’re buying a new one, I would strongly recommend cool-mist because warm ones can be a burn hazard if children get too close to it.
Use a suction bulb
Unfortunately, most children under four have a difficult time learning how to blow their little noses. You can help them out with a suction bulb instead. If your child is old enough to have an opinion on the matter, this will be about as fun as giving them nasal drops, but bulb syringes can clear nasal passages like nothing else.
Kids can’t have cough and cold medicine, but they can have children’s ibuprofen. Ibuprofen won’t relieve all cold symptoms, but it can help with fevers and sore throats. Just be sure to pay careful attention to dosage instructions, and remember never to give pain relievers to children younger than six months of age.
Elevate their head
You know how colds and congestion always seem to feel about a thousand times worse at night? That’s partially because lying flat on your back makes breathing more difficult. Elevate your child’s head while he or she is sleeping. Let your infant sleep in the car seat during the day; it’s the perfect angle for getting some good rest. If your child sleeps in a crib, place a few folded towels under one end of the crib mattress. While these methods can relieve congestion, be very careful not to create a situation where suffocation could occur.
Cold and flu season is tough for anyone, but it can be even worse for young kids who can’t take the same symptom-relief medications that adults can. With a little bit of TLC, you can help your kids fend off unpleasant cold symptoms and get back to normal in no time.
How do you help your little one get over a cold? Did I miss any remedies? Let me know in the comments below!