Cough And Colds Medicine For Baby

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How to Soothe a Toddler’s Cough

boy coughing outside

First things first, it’s helpful to know what not to do. If your child is coughing, don’t reach for a cough suppressant. “Cough suppressants may actually be harmful. They make some kids hyperactive, dizzy, and restless at bedtime,” says Catherine Tom-Revzon, PharmD, a pediatrics clinical pharmacy manager at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains that cough suppressants may also be unsafe for those under 4 years old.

But just because you can’t offer your toddler a cough suppressant doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. When your toddler is coughing and miserable, try some of these safe, natural home remedies for cough for kids.

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Honey and Honeycombs

Studies have shown that honey is better than medicine for relieving coughs and helping a sick toddler sleep better. “Honey is safe for children age 1 and older, and kids are happy to take it because it tastes good,” says researcher Ian Paul, M.D., a member of the AAP’s clinical pharmacology and therapeutics committee.

Dark honey, such as buckwheat, may work best because it’s higher in antioxidants. But if you can’t find buckwheat honey, rest assured that any natural honey will do the trick thanks to its potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can go a long way in soothing a sore throat.

Give half a teaspoon to children ages 1 to 5 years and one teaspoon to kids ages 6 to 11. If your child won’t take honey directly, you can also add it to warm water, herbal tea, or warm milk.

But skip this remedy for kids under 1: Experts say that you should never give honey to babies younger than 12 months as they are at increased risk of severe illness from certain bacteria that can be found in it.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup

It’s more than an old folk remedy: Research shows that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. Its warm temperature can soothe sore throats and also acts as a vaporizer, helping to loosen mucus in the nasal passages, which can alleviate that stuffy nose. And since a cough and sore throat is oftentimes caused by a post-nasal drip (mucus running down the throat instead of out the nose), being able to open the nasal passages to help clear them out will help stop the coughing too.

The magic in the soup may come from the perfect balance of electrolytes, which help keep you hydrated, balanced by the protein and carbohydrates, making this a perfect meal for anyone who feels icky. It’s no wonder a bowl of chick soup can feel like a warm hug.

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Hot or Cold Drinks

girl drinking apple juice

Warm or very cold liquids make excellent toddler cough remedies because they thin out mucus, which makes it easier to cough up. Plus, liquids soothe a raw throat and keep your little one hydrated.

While it may seem like common sense, scientists only recently took an interest in understanding how this phenomenon works. Researchers at the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University found that hot beverages in particular are the most effective at soothing cold and flu symptoms. In their study, they noted hot drinks relieved symptoms from runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chills, and fatigue. But a warm, room temperature beverage had fewer benefits and only temporarily relieved runny nose, coughing, and a sore thorat.

Cold drinks are also beneficial because they can numb a sore throat while helping to hydrate at the same time. Try not to drink ice cold juice that is highly acidic (think organe juice) since the acidity can increase discomfort in a raw throat sore from coughing.

Have your child sip ice water, cold or warm juice, or warm caffeine-free herbal tea.

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Soothing Treats

Children age 4 and older can suck on sore throat or cough lozenges, sugar-free hard candies, or even frozen berries. A Popsicle or crushed ice are great choices for a younger kids with a cough-inducing scratchy throat.

Babies as young as 6 months and who have started on solid foods can safely gnaw on frozen foods in a baby mesh bag. Using a mesh bag for things like frozen berries, yogurt, or even an ice cube in a mesh bag can help alleviate a sore throat and cough without the risk of chocking.

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Cool-Mist Humidifier

Vicks Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier

Keep a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s room to help loosen chest and nasal congestion, which is a great remedy for nighttime coughing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a cool air humidifier used in tandem with other treatments such as rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and consuming honey can help relieve coughing and other cold and flu symptoms. While it won’t cure the cause, it will certainly help your little one feel a little better, especially at night when coughing may be worse.

Bacteria and mold grow quickly, so change the water daily and thoroughly clean the unit, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Another good option: Have your child sit in a steamy bathroom or take a warm shower. (Try Vick’s Filter Free Cool-Mist Humidifier).

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Salt Water Gargle

Salt Shaker Spill Wooden Table

One of the simplest toddler cough remedies involves salt and water. Simply mix one-half teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of water, then have your child gargle the solution. It should ease the throat irritation that often comes with coughing. (Note: This should only be given to older toddlers, who can be trusted to spit out the solution without swallowing it.)

Salt draws water, which makes it an excellent remedy for coughing and sore throats since the tissue in the upper respiratory tract tends to become inflamed from excess mucus and fluids, causing coughing and soreness. In a randomized study, researchers found a significant decrease in upper respiratory tract infections after participants regularly gargled with salt water while ill.

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Propped-Up Position

cough remedies for kids sleeping child

Elevate an older child’s head with an extra pillow at night; this will open their airways so mucus can drain. (But call your doctor for any cough if your child is younger than 4 months.)

Mucus doesn’t take a break at bedtime and can build up in the back of the throat, especially if your child has a stuffed up nose. To help ease symptoms and reduce coughing, prop your child’s head up to help mucus keep moving. And since a dry throat can become easily irritated and cause even more mucus build up, make sure to use a humidifier close to your child’s bed.

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Saline Solution

Little Remedies Saline Spray

Your toddler’s cough may be caused by postnasal drip. Loosen up clogged mucus with a few drops of saline solution, then suck it out with a suction bulb. (Try Little Remedies Saline Spray and Drops).

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Chest Rub

Vicks BabyRub Soothing Vapor Ointment

If your child is older than 2, you can ease congestion with a chest rub, like Vicks BabyRub. The product—which contains aloe, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary—might help your toddler get a better night’s sleep. (Try Vicks BabyRub Soothing Vapor Ointment).

The active ingredient is eucalyptus, which is a natural expectorant that helps to loosen mucus, which can ease coughing, open nasal passages, and soothe a sore throat.

Home Remedies For Kids’ Colds That Actually Work

Many herbal and alternative remedies haven’t been evaluated for use with kids and are generally not recommended by medical practitioners, so check with your healthcare provider. Here are some tools for battling coughs and colds this winter.

1. A spoonful of honey

Several studies have shown that swallowing one teaspoon (15 mL) of honey about half an hour before bed can help you get a better night’s sleep and settle a cough, says Mankal. It’s believed that the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of honey may be at work. However, remember that kids under the age of one should never have honey due to the risk of infant botulism.

2. Plenty of fluids

Keeping kids hydrated is a really important part of making them feel better, says Jared Friesen, a family nurse practitioner in Alberta. “A cold or cough can make kids lethargic, so they won’t want to eat or drink much, which means they can get even more lethargic, and the cycle continues,” he says. Offer small amounts of food and especially liquid often. Kid-friendly options include soup (try a low-sodium broth), applesauce, juice mixed with a bit of water (offering it in an egg cup or even a shot glass may be enough of a novelty to intrigue them) and frozen treats like Popsicles. Mankal says a good alternative to juice is cooled, fruity hibiscus tea, which is brightly coloured like juice but not nearly as sweet.

3. Saline spray

“Saline drops and mists can help because salt loosens the mucus and makes it easier for a child to clear it out of their nose,” says Mankal. “If they’re upset with you after you do it, that’s how you know you’ve done enough.” You can also get out the suction bulbs, or “snot suckers,” to gently clear out their nose. You can try teaching kids ages six and up to gargle with salt water (a teaspoon of table salt dissolved in a cup of warm water) to help relieve a sore throat.

4. Humidifier

A humidifier in your child’s room can help manage cough and cold symptoms by keeping their airway moist, says Friesen. Cool or warm mist? It doesn’t really matter, says Mankal, although a cool mist is generally better for a barky, seal-like croup cough. “For croup, you can also bundle your child in a blanket and take them outside to breathe in some cool air for a few minutes,” she says.

5. Sponge bath

“There’s reasonable evidence to suggest that a sponge bath with lukewarm water, combined with Tylenol or Advil, is more likely to bring a fever down within an hour than medication alone,” says Friesen. However, if your child is already feeling chilled, skip the sponging.

6. Extra pillows

Add an extra pillow to elevate your child’s head and help clear congestion, says Mankal.

7. Vicks VapoRub

Is that strongly scented stuff from your own childhood a good idea? While it’s not exactly a “home remedy,” the over-the-counter ointment is still quite popular as a topical option.  “There’s a small amount of evidence to suggest that it can improve symptoms at bedtime,” says Friesen, who sometimes uses it on his own kids, ages two and six.

The bottom line? Coughs and colds are a fact of life. And while there’s no magic approach to zap them instantly, you can manage their symptoms and help your child get some healing rest. “Comfort is your ultimate goal,” says Friesen.

When to see a doctor

Signs that you’re not dealing with a run-of-the-mill cough or cold and your child should be seen by a healthcare provider include wheezing; laboured or fast breathing (nostrils are flared, skin is stretched tight over the ribcage and a prescribed inhaler isn’t helping); a cough that leads to choking, vomiting or trouble breathing; difficulty waking up; and infrequent urination due to dehydration. These symptoms could be red flags that you’re dealing with influenza or another serious infection. When it comes to temperature, you should take your child to a doctor if their fever lasts longer than 72 hours, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society.

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