Health Update: How to Soothe Kids' Colds Without Meds

Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines should no longer be given to children younger than 4, according to a new warning from the makers of these children's medications. The FDA is still evaluating whether they're safe for children under 11. So what do you do if you child's coughing the night away or sneezing nonstop? We asked top pediatricians how to help your child feel better and sleep soundly -- safely.

Do cold and cough medicines actually work?

The evidence says no: Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines do little or nothing to fight off germs and relieve symptoms like congestion, runny noses or coughs. Numerous studies have shown that babies and toddlers given cold and cough medicines don't have fewer side effects or feel better any quicker than children who don't receive any. "Most babies and kids with colds will start feeling better in less than five days, whether or not they take medicine," says Dennis Kuo, MD, a pediatrician at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Swear that giving your baby meds before bed helps her snooze better? It's likely a parental placebo effect, says Jennifer Shu, MD, a pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. "These drugs may help you feel better, so you assume they work on your baby too," she explains.

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment