Babies’ and kids’ developing immune systems require special treatment when they’re socked by colds or the flu. And with recent recalls and recommendations by medical organizations narrowing options for relieving children’s symptoms, what’s a parent to do? Here are eight medicine-free ways to treat your child’s illnesses.
Treats stuffy, runny noses
Most parents find that holding a tissue to Baby’s congested nose just sets off an impromptu game of peek-a-boo. Most children are not developmentally capable of blowing their noses until around age two, so until your baby responds when you say, “Blow!”, you’ll need to find alternative remedies to treat nasal congestion.
For young babies, an infant-size nasal bulb syringe works well to relieve a stuffy, runny nose.
Treats stuffy, runny noses and dried nasal mucus
Make saline solution your new best friend during sniffle season. This deceptively simple combination of salt and water can:
- Soothe inflamed nasal tissue
- Thin and loosen nasal mucus (especially the dry, crusty variety)
- Give stuffy, congested little noses a chance to drain.
Administering saline drops also provides relief for irritated nasal passageways—and those nasty nosebleeds—caused by the dry air of the winter home-heating months. (Use only as often as directed.)
When buying saline drops, make sure to choose a brand that does not contain added cold medication. (Click here to purchase Ayr Baby Saline Drops)
Cool Mist Humidifiers
Treats coughs and nasal and chest congestion
“Humid air is a great natural decongestant during the overnight hours,” says Dr. Kelly Miller, MD, a practicing pediatrician from Newark, New Jersey.
Cool mist humidifiers moisten dry winter air, and breathing this in works to:
- Soothe wheezy coughs
- Clear your child’s nasal passages
- Loosen mucus in his lungs.
Running a humidifier in your child’s room overnight may help him finally get some much-needed rest.
Shower Steam Room
Treats nasal and chest congestion and wheezy or croupy coughs
“Give your child steam, steam, and more steam!” urges Dr. James Sears, MD, pediatrician and coauthor of The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood. “Sitting near the steamy blast of a hot shower will loosen your baby’s nose and chest congestion, and help your child cough it up or blow it out.”
Shower steam is also recognized as an effective treatment for infant croup.
Menthol and Eucalyptus Vapors
Treats coughs and chest and sinus congestion
Your congested baby will breathe a little easier when the scent of menthol or eucalytus is in the air. The soothing vapors of these plant-based essential oils (menthol is made from peppermint leaves) open the body’s air passageways by triggering blood vessels to dilate. Eucalyptus oil is thought to possess expectorant qualities, meaning that breathing in eucalyptus vapors might make it easier for your child to cough up loosened mucus.
(Click here to buy Vicks Baby Rub)
Increased Fluid Intake
Treats congestion and dehydration
Drinking lots of fluids (breast milk, formula, cow’s milk, water, and broth) thins mucus secretions and keeps your baby hydrated and better-equipped to fight off germs and infection.
How much is enough? “Encourage your child to drink twice as much as usual,” recommends Dr. Sears.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Ah, the ultimate folk remedy for the common cold. Whether it’s the steam and soothing aroma of warm soup, the added fluids, or the nutritious combination of chicken, veggies, and broth, why chicken soup works so well to relieve congestion and “perk up” a sick child is still a mystery. Medical researchers, however, are certain about one thing: Cold symptoms respond to both homemade soup and prepared chicken soup.
Comfort and TLC
When caring for a sick baby, put extra effort into comforting your child and making her feel cared for and loved. Experts agree that positive parental attention distracts a child from the aggravation of a stuffy nose or congested chest. Creating a peaceful atmosphere also helps your baby to relax and rest.
Try cuddling in bed and reading stories together until your child drifts off to sleep. Temporarily move your baby’s crib into your bedroom so you are within arm’s reach when coughing wakens your little one during the night.