Kids can get colds as often as 8-12 times a year, especially for younger ones whose immune systems are still developing. Even if it is just the common cold, we tend to worry and try our best to make them feel better as soon as possible. Often times, the easiest way is to resort to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines thinking that our little ones will heal faster taking them. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend these type of medicines for children younger than 2 years old. Drugs with codeine and hydrocodone, usually combined with other medicines in decongestants and antihistamines, are also not indicated for use in children younger than 18 years old. While there is no direct cure for the common cold (as most of them clear up in a week or two), here are some simple home remedies you can try to help make your little one feel better.
This includes washing hands regularly. Teach proper hand washing by telling your kids to apply soap and rub their hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. You can also give some reminders like staying away from someone who is coughing or sneezing, refraining from touching countertops and door handles, and avoiding sharing drinks and utensils with other kids. You can even buy them cute bottles of hand sanitizer, which you can encourage them to use when needed.
Keeping hydrated is definitely essential not just for good health, but also for getting better when you have a cold. If you find it hard to get your kids to drink water, try things like fresh juices, coconut water, sports drinks (which are filled with electrolytes), and even soups! The electrolytes from sports drinks and the steam from soups can help ease symptoms for kids six months and up. The warm liquid can also help clear mucus from the nose and prevent dehydration.
A humidifier in your child’s room can help manage cough and cold symptoms by keeping their airway moist. It also helps reduce congestion and helps them feel better. There are many different types of humidifiers–steam/evaporative type, ultrasonic, etc.–that you can easily find in your local department or hardware store. (Another thing to consider is the sound the humidifiers produce.) However, if your child has asthma, you may want to talk to your physician first before getting one.
If your child complains that he or she cannot sleep due to their congestion, one thing you can do is to add extra pillows and elevate his or her head when he or she is lying down. This can help clear congestion and make them sleep better. Just note that this technique can only be used for kids 12 months and up.
Honey contains natural antimicrobial agents and antioxidants that can help fight off germs. Since it is naturally sweet, honey also stimulates salivation, which can help thin excessive mucus and/or soothe a dry throat and cough. Just remember that honey must be given to kids one year and up to prevent infant botulism.
Breastfeeding is still recommended for children six months and below, even if they have a clogged nose. If a direct latch is difficult for the baby, you can try to express milk and feed them with a cup or bottle. For bigger kids, try using a saline nose spray to loosen up dry mucus. Ask your child to blow his or her nose afterwards or if they can’t, try sucking out the liquid from the nose with a syringe.
Some moms swear by letting their child drink the juice of sweet potato leaves with some calamansi, as it is said to help boost the immune system. Sweet potato leaves or kamote tops are also a good source of vitamin C and B, which are essential for one’s health. You can mix the leaves with honey to add flavor, too.
If all else fails, rest and wait it out. It takes energy to fight off an infection. Let your kids have enough time to rest so their bodies can heal faster and to let the virus slip away sooner.