When Can a Baby Have Cold Medicine?
The FDA strongly advises against giving over-the-counter cold or cough medicine to children under the age of 2. And in most cases, it’s recommended to avoid using these medications until children turn 4! Current evidence even points out that cold and cough medicines do not help cold symptoms and may pose health risks for your infant.
Here are cold and cough medicines that you should never give your infant.
Cold Medicines You Should NEVER Give to Your Baby:
1. Over-the-counter zinc nose spray or drops.
Zinc spray or drops may damage the nerves in the nose and hurt your baby’s ability to smell.
2. Honey in anything for babies under 1.
While honey is believed to have medicinal benefits that help alleviate adult coughs and sore throats, in babies it poses a potentially fatal risk. Honey may contain bacteria that can cause infant botulism…so hold off on giving your little one the sweet stuff until after she turns 1!
3. Vicks VapoRub.
Chest rubs can get in the eyes and be VERY irritating. Plus, a 2009 study found it actually increased mucus production and inflammation. For babies and toddlers, that means it may worsen their breathing.
4. Cough and cold medicines for children under 4.
Research shows they don’t help little kids much, but they have the potential for serious side effects and overdose.
What Medicine Can I Give My Baby for a Cold?
As mentioned above, over-the-counter medications pose risks to your baby. So what can you give your sniffling sneezing little love bug?
I recommend the following cold remedies for your baby:
- Nose Washers
- Nose Suckers
Read more about these and other baby cold treatments.
An FYI about antibiotics:
The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised doctors against prescribing antibiotics for viral respiratory illnesses, like sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis. They don’t work, and they lead to antibiotic resistance in the community, which can harm us all. In fact, 23,000 people die in the US from infections caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
On the other hand, getting the flu shot can really protect a child—as well as the rest of the household—from getting slammed with high fever and chills…or worse!
If your baby does get a cold, try these safe, natural remedies instead. Stay healthy!
Best Cold Medicine For Baby
When your infant or baby shows signs of having a cold or flu, you’ll try anything to give them relief. Most children’s cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children under six years of age. However, there are a number of ways you can help keep your child comfortable and soothe their symptoms.
With some careful attention (mixed with a little bit of TLC), you can quickly and efficiently help your little one feel like their normal self. Here are some preventative measures you can take as a parent:
Take precautions before bedtime
Most kids get restless when they’re sick, but children with a cold or flu should have lots of bed rest to help their bodies fight the virus1. Here are four preventative measures you can take to help your child relax before bedtime:
- Keep your child hydrated2. Feverish children can get considerably dehydrated from sweating.
- Children with the flu are often not very hungry, but their bodies still need nourishment to fight the illness.3 Make sure your child consumes easy-to-digest meals in the evenings. Some good options are rice, crackers, toast, soup, and bananas.
- Use a humidifier to help with nasal congestion.4
- To help relieve fever in infants 0-2 years, use Infants’ TYLENOL® Fever and Sore Throat Pain Concentrated Drops or Infant’s TYLENOL® Drops. Always read and follow the labels to ensure the product is right for your child.
Ways to Help Prevent Colds and Flus
Colds and flus are brought on by viruses. The best way to avoid these viruses is to prevent your family from coming into contact with them in the first place, and from spreading them to each other.
It’s important that your entire family follow these simple rules:
- Avoid contact with people who are sick. If you work outside the home or if your children go to school or daycare, this may be difficult to do; however, you can ask people to not visit your home if they have a cold or flu.
- Follow this proper hand-washing technique. This is the simplest and most effective way to prevent infecting yourself and others.
- Use warm water and soap.
- Briskly rub your hands together for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Wash in between your fingers, around your nails and the back of your hands.
- To prevent germs and viruses from spreading or entering your system (or someone else’s), wash up after you shake hands with someone who is sick, take out the garbage, pet animals, change a diaper or use the bathroom. Also wash your hands after you blow your nose or sneeze or cough into your hands. Wash your hands before you eat or prepare a meal or snack, treat a wound or put in contact lenses.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Teach your children that this is a common way for a virus to enter your body from your hands.
- Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. If you don’t have a tissue within reach, sneeze or cough into your folded elbow rather than on your hands.
- When someone in your household is sick:
- Use separate towels
- Use separate drinking cups and utensils
- Ensure dishes are washed well with soap in hot water.
Cough and Cold Medicine For Newborn Baby
- 1Use a combination of saline drops and suction to remove excess mucus. Tip your infant’s head back and squeeze drops of an over-the-counter saline solution into their nostrils. Read the instructions to see how many drops you should use based on your baby’s age and weight. Saline drops will help thin out the mucus and make it easier to remove. Have your baby lay flat on their back for 2-3 minutes. Then use a rubber bulb to suck out the loose mucus.
- Boil the bulb for 3-5 minutes before you use it to clean and sterilize it. Allow it to cool completely before using it on your child.
- Before using suction, squeeze the bulb to release any air. Gently insert the tip of the syringe into your baby’s nose. Only place the syringe inside the nose ¼ to ½ inch (0.64 to 1.27 cm). Angle the tip towards the back and side of the nose. Squeeze to suck up the mucus, then gently remove the syringe from the baby’s nostril.
- The best times to do this are before feeding your baby or putting them to bed.
- 2Apply petroleum jelly to your baby’s nose to treat irritation. Rub a thin coating of petroleum jelly on the outside of your baby’s nose to reduce irritation, focusing on areas that look red, chapped, or sore. Avoid using any medicated nasal sprays on your baby because this can make the congestion worse.
- Mentholated topical ointments and rubs are not recommended for children under the age of 2. If your baby is truly struggling with congestion, talk to your doctor during your visit about non-medicated rubs formulated particularly for infants.
- 3Run a humidifier to help your baby breathe better. A humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer sends moisture out into the room, which can reduce your baby’s nasal inflammation and relieve stuffiness. Placing a humidifier in your sick infant’s room may make it easier for him or her to fall asleep.
- Make sure that you change the water each day and clean the machine as directed by the manufacturer.
- You can also run the hot water in your bathroom and sit in the steamy room with your baby for 15 minutes at a time if you do not have a humidifier.
Method2Keeping Your Child ComfortableDownload Article
- 1Make sure your baby gets plenty of rest to help them recover. The human body uses a lot of energy in fighting off infection. Keep your baby out of stressful situations and encourage calm forms of play, such as listening to stories or playing peek-a-boo, instead of physically demanding active play. Allow them to nap and sleep as needed, understanding that they may be more tired than they are on a normal day.
- You can give your baby toys that will occupy them but keep them calm. Try reading to them or offering them their favorite stuffed animal. You could also sing or play music for them.
- 2Give your baby fluids such as water and juice to keep them hydrated. Drinking fluids prevents dehydration and thins out nasal secretions. You don’t have to give your baby any extra fluids, but you should make sure that they continue ingesting the same amount of fluids as usual.
- For babies six months or older, try plain water, fruit juices, ice pops, or an electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte or Enfalyte.
- For children less than six months, breast milk is best, but you can also give them water. Breast milk provides immune-boosting properties that can help protect your baby from germs.
- If your baby won’t take fluids, contact your doctor.
- 3Offer your infant warm liquids to help aches and congestion. If they are six months or older, your infant can have chicken soup or warm juice like apple juice. Warm clear liquids can relieve sore throats, congestion, aches, and fatigue.
- Make sure the liquids are not hot, but warm. They should not scald or hurt your baby. Try testing the temperature on your wrist using the same technique that you use with a bottle.
Method3Using Medicine to Treat the ColdDownload Article
- 1Seek immediate medical attention if your baby has a fever. If your baby has a temperature over 100 F (38 C), they need immediate medical attention. A fever could be a sign that something else is wrong.
- 2Call your doctor if your baby has irregular symptoms or is under 3 months old. Contact your doctor if your baby is irritable, has any eye discharge, has difficulty breathing, or has a chronic cough. These symptoms need medical help to clear up. Additionally, if your baby is under 3 months, contact your doctor as soon as you notice cold-like symptoms. For newborns, colds can turn into serious illnesses.
- If your baby has any symptoms that worry you, contact your doctor immediately. It’s better to get your baby checked out than not.
- 3Use fever-reducing over-the-counter medication. Acetaminophen is safe for children 3 months and up, and ibuprofen is safe for kids 6 months and up. Look for over-the-counter medication that can be given in small doses and carefully obey the instructions. These medications often come in “children’s formulas” that are safe for infants. If you have any questions about the dose your infant can receive, contact your doctor prior to administering it.
- Check with your doctor to see what dosages you should use.
- Avoid these medications if your child is dehydrated or vomiting, as it could make the condition worse.
- 4Avoid giving your infant over-the-counter cough and cold medicine. These medications may ease symptoms but they can cause side effects. If your child has any discomfort or pain because of their symptoms, contact your doctor. They may be able to provide a prescription medication or an appropriate pain management plan.
- The FDA strongly advises against over-the-counter cold medicine for children younger than 2 years old, and many manufacturers have stopped making these products for children under the age of 4.