10 Cold and Flu Remedies for Infants and Kids All Parents Should Know

Updated: Feb. 10, 2017

All kiddos get sick—and often at the most inopportune times. Luckily, many simple treatments can make that cold or flu much easier to handle. These are the most recommended childhood cold remedies.

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Keep them hydrated

When dealing with child or infant cold symptoms, the top priority is to keep them hydrated. The trick is to give them fluids while preventing said fluids from coming right back up. Start small by offering only a tablespoon of fluid every five minutes. If they keep that down, then elevate the serving. The best fluids (for children who’ve graduated from breast milk and formula, of course) include milk, water, diluted juices and even sodas. As far as food goes, don’t sweat an MIA appetite. It’s fine for them to not eat or barely eat for a day, as long as they are taking their fluids.

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Sit in steam

One of the best ways to relieve nasal congestion in babies is with steam. To create steam you could use a humidifier or you can save money and use your shower. Run a hot shower then sit in the steamy room with your baby for a few minutes. The steam works to clean their nose by thinning out the mucus and preventing inflammation.

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Elevate their heads

If you are faced with newborn congestion or an earache, one of the simplest methods you can use to clear it up is to elevate your child’s head. The best way is to lay your infant in the crib, then place a pillow underneath the mattress (never put a pillow in a baby’s crib). Don’t raise it too high to avoid letting your baby slip to the foot of the crib.

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Serve soup

Soup has been a tried-and-true remedy for colds for generations, and there is no surprise as to why because this treatment actually works! Chicken noodle soup is a common choice for treating colds, but the flavor has little to do with the remedy. In truth, it is the consumption of a warm liquid that helps increase the speed of mucus through the nose. If soup isn’t your thing, you can also try warm apple juice as it should have the same effect. In addition to mucus movement, these beverages also help to keep kids hydrated. Here are more foods to eat when you have a cold.

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Blast away germs

Although there is no doubt that you already keep a clean house, you may want to do double duty when faced with child and infant flu symptoms. Keeping the home spic and span is an excellent way to stop the germs in their place and help to prevent the kids from getting sick as frequently. Create a checklist for yourself and follow it every time. Change hand towels on a daily basis, give your bathrooms a quick cleaning after each use, wash and change bedding materials, and wipe down all door handles and light switches with a sanitizing wipe regularly. Repeat the routine until your kids get better. These cleaning mistakes can leave germs behind.

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For children old enough to take them, certain pain relievers can aid in relieving flu symptoms and headaches. Ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are two of these medications. It is important to know when to give your child medication and when not to. If your child has a fever but still appears happy and active, many doctors advise that you hold off on the fever reducer. When giving your child a medication, always follow the guidelines on the label or from your pediatrician and don’t mix pain relievers whenever possible.

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Spoon out some honey

If your child is suffering from a continuous cough or a sore throat, honey might be the answer. More and more studies show that honey is becoming a common treatment for nagging coughs in children over the age of one (giving honey to children under one year old can is not recommended). It is the antioxidants in honey that do the trick, so find a darker honey, such as buckwheat or avocado honey (darker kinds of honey contain the highest level of antioxidants). As a general rule, give your child half of a teaspoon for every 25 pounds your child weighs. You can administer honey four to five times a day.

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Try some saline drops or saline nasal spray

Although the effects may be short-lived, one of the most highly recommended suggestions for quelling uncomfortable congestion is saline drops or nasal spray. Nasal sprays are highly recommended because children are usually too young for many over the counter medications. Sprays are also helpful when paired with a bulb syringe because the spray loosens up the mucus for easier extraction, particularly with when you have a yellow snot baby. Although the effects are not permanent, a nasal spray can be a welcomed relief for the most stuffed up noses.

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Keep them home

There is no underestimating the power of rest when dealing with child and infant flu symptoms. The CDC (and most daycares and schools ) recommends keeping kids home for 24 hours, even after they no longer show signs of sickness. Remember that just having a runny nose or a slight fever by itself is not usually cause for alarm. Consider the combination of symptoms your child has: “Many children that have runny noses are not sick,” pediatrician Henry Ukpeh, MD, told Today’s Parent. But a runny nose combined with mood change and loss of appetite may mean a day off from school. In addition to keeping your kids healthy, leaving them home also prevents them from getting other kids sick. Children with the flu can be contagious for up to seven days, so when in doubt, sit them out.

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Treat newborn congestion differently

When dealing with newborn congestion and nasal congestion in babies, it is important to be extra prudent when choosing a remedy. When your newborn and infant’s flu symptoms involve a stuffy nose, try saline drops or a suction bulb. If your newborn has a dry nose, lay the baby on their back with a rolled up towel below their shoulders. From there, apply two to three drops in each nostril. Then, wait between 30-60 seconds before draining the baby’s nose. Call a doctor if the sickness elevates to fever, rash, or a stuffy nose combined with a swelling of the eyes and cheeks.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest