Winter Cold Survival Guide

Feel Better Fast

Try these gentle ways to soothe your child's symptoms.

Stuffy nose

  • For a baby, squirt saline drops into each nostril, wait a minute, and then suck the secretions out with a bulb syringe (especially before feedings). You can start teaching your toddler how to blow out through his nose, but you'll need to hold the tissue for him.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier in your child's bedroom (place it within 10 feet of her head) to loosen congestion.
  • Elevate your child's head at night. For a baby, put a pillow under one end of the crib mattress. Give older kids an extra pillow.
  • Increase fluids. For a baby, offer more formula or breast milk. For older kids, give them anything liquid, such as ice pops or Jell-O.
  • Get your child into the cold air. Let her play outside, or take her for a walk in the stroller. Cold temperatures help mucus drain.
  • Talk to your doctor about using a nasal decongestant if your child's stuffiness is severe -- especially if he's up during the night -- but never give one without asking because it can
    thicken mucus and make it harder to clear, says Dr. Schumann.

Cough and Sore Throat

  • To soothe airways, use a cool-mist humidifier, or steam up the bathroom with a hot shower.
  • Talk to your doctor before giving cough medicine. Most provide minimal relief in young kids and may have troublesome side effects.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen if your child has throat pain.
  • Let toddlers and older kids suck on lollipops. Don't give cough drops to a child until he's 4, because they're a choking hazard.
  • Offer cold fluids or frozen treats to numb the throat.
  • Have your preschooler or school-age child gargle with warm saltwater.

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