The common cold is caused by a virus, which means antibiotics won’t treat it. Time and rest are really the best “cures” for a cold.

But there are things you CAN do to treat a cold’s symptoms and help make your child more comfortable.

Read on to learn what to do and what not to do when your child has a cold, and when you need to take your child to see a doctor.

Did you know there are more than 200 different viruses that can cause a cold? The rhinovirus is the most common one. Except in newborns, colds in children aren’t generally dangerous and will go away on their own in about 4-10 days.

If, however, your baby is younger than 2-3 months of age call your doctor right away as a cold can quickly develop into croup, pneumonia or another serious illness in newborns.

The first symptoms of a cold are usually a runny or stuffy nose and sneezing. Kids may also have a sore throat, cough, mild fever, fatigue, muscle aches and loss of appetite.

See A Doctor Right Away If:

  • Child refuses to nurse or drink any fluids
  • Coughs hard enough to induce vomiting
  • Has difficulty breathing or is bluish around the lips
  • Coughs up bloody sputum

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Your baby isn’t wetting as many diapers as usual
  • Child has ear pain
  • Has red eyes or develops yellow or greenish eye discharge
  • Has a persistent or hacking cough
  • Has thick green nasal discharge for several days
  • Has a high temperature, chills, shakes or extreme fatigue
  • Has any other symptoms that worry you (like pain, wheezing, unusual crying, etc.)

If you want to treat the symptoms of your child’s cold to help them feel better, be sure you know all the treatment do’s and don’ts.

My Child Has A Cold – The Don’ts

  • Don’t give aspirin to children under the age of twelve EVER, and don’t give aspirin to teens under age 19 if they have a viral infection (like a cold) because it may increase the risk of developing Reye’s Syndrome, a rare but serious condition.
  • Don’t give over-the-counter cold medicine to children under the age of 4.  OTC meds can cause serious and potentially life threatening side effects in children this young. This means no cough suppressants, cough expectorants, decongestants, or antihistamines for kids younger than 4. 

My Child Has A Cold – The Do’s

What A Doc Says:

  • Medicine can’t cure the common cold, but you can give your child (over age 4) acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve symptoms such as muscle aches, headaches, and fever. Carefully follow the package recommendations for age/weight, or call your doctor for dosing.
  • If your child has trouble breathing, saline nasal drops can thin the mucus in his/her nose and shrink swollen airways. Use them 2-3 times a day (more can make the nose sore).
  • Try a humidifier to increase air moisture. The warm air can help improve breathing and ease a dry, sore throat.
  • Raise your child’s head when they sleep. Place an extra pillow or folded towel under your baby’s mattress to create a slight angle to help them breathe. (This is only for children 12 months of age, or older).

What A Mom Says:

  • If your child is too young to blow their nose, try using a bulb syringe after the saline drops, like the Nose Frida. It works well in young babies, particularly if their stuffy nose makes it hard for them to nurse. Try it about 15 minutes before feeding time.
  • Give plenty of fluids, like water or juice, to replace those lost during fever or mucus production. Avoid anything caffeinated, which can increase urination and therefore make the dehydration even worse.
  • Try running a hot shower and having your child breathe in the steam, it can open up the nasal passages and help your child breathe more easily.

What A Naturopath Says:

  • Rub petroleum jelly on the skin under your child’s nose to soothe rawness.
  • Try placing your child in a warm bath or using a heating pad to soothe away aches and pains.
  • Serve your sick little one warm chicken soup or bone broth, both loosen congestion and have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Warm herbal tea with honey can ease a sore throat. *

*  Honey is NOT safe for infants under one year of age.


SHARE what to do when your child has a cold on Facebook and Pinterest by clicking the buttons below.