There’s nothing worse than when your child gets sick: you feel totally helpless, tears are flowing — from the both of you — and you’re desperate to see your little one smile again.
At the first sign of a sniffle, your inclination might be to head straight to the store and raid the medicine aisle. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that over-the-counter medications may not be effective for treating kids' coughs and colds and can be dangerous for children younger than six years of age.
But that doesn’t mean your child has to suffer as there are ways to ease their pain the safe way. When sickness strikes, gentle home remedies can help soothe your child’s cold symptoms naturally. But as always, speak with your pediatrician first to find the best route of recovery for your child.
Breathing in moist air aids in loosening the mucus in the nasal passage. Use a humidifier or a cool-mist vaporizer in your child’s bedroom at night to help her breathe better, thus getting a better night’s sleep. Another way to achieve the benefits of steaming is to give your child a warm bath in a steamy bathroom; the relaxation she will feel from the calming bath is an added bonus.
Using a natural, safe saline solution from the store is a great way to help loosen congestion and clear your child’s nose. Another option is to make a DIY version at home: simply mix three teaspoons salt with one rounded teaspoon baking soda, then dissolve about one half teaspoon of the mixture in four ounces of warm water and use immediately for one treatment. Make sure you only use only store-bought distilled or sterile water.
For very young babies especially, a stuffy nose can severely interfere with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, which in turn causes them to not eat and there not receive the nutrients that will help them get better. To combat this cycle, buy a bulb syringe to help suction the mucus out gently, repeating a few times if necessary.
We’ve all heard this since we were young, but increasing one’s fluid intake when sick helps the recovery process run more quickly while also preventing dehydration. Whether it’s breast milk, formula, water or another fluid approved by your pediatrician, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to feel better faster.
It might seem cliché, but studies suggest chicken soup can actually help relieve cold symptoms like aches, congestion, fatigue and fever. If chicken soup seems to be too much for your child to handle, start with just the warm broth, which still has soothing and healing properties.
Honey — only suitable for children ages 12 months and up
Pure, raw honey can coat the throat, soothe pain and tame a cough. Warm up about one half teaspoon honey in a bowl mixed with a little warm water and a squeeze of lemon and spoon feed your child the mixture -- just make sure he brushes his teeth afterwards to ward off cavities.
This one might seem obvious, but it’s definitely worth highlighting because of the huge role it plays in recovery. It takes lots of energy to fight off sickness and infection, which is exhausting for your child’s little body. So make it a priority to help him find a quiet, comfortable place to rest, because when he’s resting, his body is healing.