You may spend a lot of time comforting a sick baby in your child's early years. Whether your child is on antibiotics or you're just waiting for a cold to run its course, there are some measures you can take to soothe a sick baby.
Easing a stuffy nose
If a stuffy nose is making your baby miserable, here are some home remedies that can help.
Saline Nasal Spray With Suction
To use the suction bulb, squeeze it, gently insert the tip into your child’s nostril, and slowly let go. This will clear out your baby's nose and make it easier to breathe.
Increase the Humidity
Increasing the humidity in the air can ease your baby's stuffy nose by preventing mucus from drying up inside their nasal passages. You can put a cool-mist humidifier by your baby's crib but out of their reach.
Soothing a sore throat and cough
Never give honey to a baby under the age of one because it can have bacteria that are dangerous to babies. If your baby is aged over one year, you can give them one teaspoon of honey to help with a sore throat and cough. You can also mix two tablespoons of honey in a glass of warm water or tea for your child to drink.
Sleeping on an Incline
Your child's cough may be caused by a postnasal drip — which is mucus dripping down the back of their throat. Sleeping with their head elevated may help with this, but you should only do this with children older than one. For babies younger than one year, let them sleep flat on their backs without any pillows or blankets in their crib.
This is an option if your baby is over two years old. Rub a thick layer of the mentholated rub on your child's chest and throat area.
Your child will breathe in the vapors — which will help with their cough. Make sure to keep the medicine out of your child's reach.
It's important for your child to stay hydrated when they're sick. By giving your child warm fluids to drink, you can soothe their sore throat and increase their fluid intake.
Apple juice and lemonade are good choices for babies over three months old. If your baby is three to twelve months old, give them one to three teaspoons of these fluids up to four times daily for a cough.
In many cases, fever may be helpful to your sick child. Fever slows the growth of bacteria and viruses and boosts your baby's immune system function. It's a sign of your child's body fighting off an infection.
If your baby is uncomfortable, you can treat their fever with over-the-counter medication.
If your baby is under 3 months old and has a fever, always call their pediatrician immediately, even if they have no other symptoms.
Children Under Two Years Old
If your baby is under two years old, call the pediatrician before you give them medication. With your pediatrician's approval, give them medication with only one ingredient — either ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Children Over Two Years Old
Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen according to the package directions. Weight is a more accurate measure for dosing, but if you don't know your child's weight, you can go by their age.
Keep the following precautions in mind when giving your child medicine for fever:
- Never give your child aspirin because it has been linked to Reye syndrome — a rare but serious disease that affects the brain and liver
- Don't give ibuprofen to babies under 6 months old
- Don't give ibuprofen to children who are vomiting or having trouble drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated
- Ask your doctor for the appropriate dose — usually in milliliters. Carefully measure it out using a syringe, medicine cup, or measuring spoon labeled with milliliters
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: "How to Comfort Sick Kids at Home."
Healthychildren.org: "Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu."
Pediatrics: "Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children."
Riley Children's Health: "Sick Child Basics."
Seattle Children's: "Cough (0-12 Months)."
University Hospitals: "What to Do For Your Baby's Stuffy Nose."
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Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children
The safety of giving infants and children over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine is important for caregivers to understand. While there is no "gold standard" recommendation for giving infants and children OTC cold and cough medicine for fever, aches, cough, and runny nose, a few standards have been recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine only be used in children age four years and older.
The American College of Chest Physicians recommend that these medicines only be used in children age 15 years and older.
The FDA recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine be used in children 2 years of age and older.
However, there is agreement in regard to which OTC medications should not be used in children under the age of four (or the age of two, depending upon which guidelines are used), and they are 1) certain antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl); 2) cough expectorants (guaifenesin); 3) cough suppressants (dextromethorphan, DM); and 4) decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine).
Aspirin should never be given to infants, children, and adolescents due to the possibility of a rare, but often severe and even fatal illness called Reye's syndrome.
FDA. "Most Young Children with a Cough or Cold Don't Need Medicines." July 18, 2017.
FDA. "Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids." Updated: Nov 04, 2016.
Croup in Infants and Children: Patient EducationCroup is a viral infection caused by parainfluenza viruses, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or measles virus.
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