Winter can be a bummer sometimes. The daylight is short, the temperature plummets, and it seems like there’s always someone at home with a cold. As we all know, once one kid comes home with something, the bug will likely make its way through the rest of the family in no time.
When it comes to the kids, you may want to limit the use of over-the-counter medications. But you don’t want them to suffer through it either. While home remedies won’t necessarily cure their cold (it is a viral infection after all) they can help provide some relief from the symptoms.
Moisture plus heat yields humidity. Humidity can help open airways, which makes it a little easier to get the bad stuff out. Added moisture also keeps mucous rich areas (the nose) in a condition to better prevent harmful germs from getting into the body.
Your child can utilize either a steamy shower or an in-room humidifier. When using a humidifier, keep in mind that you need to regularly and properly clean it. Humidifiers that aren’t adequately tended to can actually GROW more microbes that are then released into the air.
Fighting a cold means more “fluid production” meaning the body produces more mucus. Staying hydrated will not only help your kid feel a little less crappy, but it also helps thin out the mucous being produced, making it easier to cough or blow out.
Water is always a good option since it’s unflavored and the easiest to tolerate. Drinks with electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Pedialyte, are also good choices. The combination of electrolytes and glucose are thought to improve energy levels, in addition to hydration. They also have a bit of flavor which may be more appealing to your child.
What did your mom feed you when you weren’t feeling well as a child? If your mom was like mine, you were likely served a bowl of chicken noodle soup. As with many things, Mom was on to something here.
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be chicken noodle soup specifically. A variety of warm liquids will do. Heat helps break up that thicker mucus. Additionally, it can soothe a sore throat. Broth-based soups are a fantastic option as they provide warmth coupled with nutrition that’s easy to get down (and of course hydration).
Another option, if your child is at least a year old, is warm tea with some honey. While there is no specific tea suggested for easing a cold, it’s probably best to opt for a caffeine free version. Honey is used to lessen coughing. Alternatively, you can skip the tea and just use warm water with a bit of honey.
Maybe your kid caught a cold in the middle of summer and doesn’t much feel like hot soup. That’s okay. Cold temperatures can help relieve a sore throat as well. Popsicles are a smart option, and you can easily make your own.
Freezing drinks like Gatorade or Pedialyte will provide soothing relief with the added benefits of electrolytes and hydration. If you have a REALLY little one, or you are still nursing, frozen breastmilk pops are an excellent choice. These provide nutrition in addition to helping your little one’s immune system.
If your child is old enough to eat hard candy (school aged or above), frozen berries are a great treat. Full of antioxidants, they are a tasty (and easy) way to help your child feel better.
Daniel Tiger said it best: “When you’re sick, rest is best, rest is best.” I don’t know if it’s a remedy per se, but it is practical advice when our kids aren’t feeling 100%. Maybe it means skipping a playdate or missing a sports practice, but taking it easy is imperative for getting them back to their best.
Sleep can be difficult if your child has a stuffy nose. Use gravity to your advantage and prop up an older kid with pillows. If your little one is still really little, opt to incline their mattress slightly by placing a small pillow underneath the head of the mattress.
Encourage Productive Coughing
While your kid’s cough may sound horrible, coughing is actually productive. It helps get the mucus and congestion out of their lungs. If your kids are old enough, you can encourage them to cough without damaging the tissues in the throat. This is done by using a deeper, “stomach” cough instead of merely clearing the throat.
Is wait-and-see a remedy? Eh, not really, but it’s what most pediatricians recommend now when a cold hits. Hopefully one (or more) of these remedies will help your child feel a little better when their next cold hits.