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Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu

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Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu

With the cold and flu season in full swing, here are some helpful tips and tricks to use for your child from the American Academy of Pediatrics (

What you need to know:

  • Unfortunately, there's no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics may be used to fight bacterial infections, but they have no effect on viruses, like the flu.

  • The best you can do is to make your child comfortable. Make sure your child gets extra rest and drinks plenty of water or other liquids.

  • Your pediatrician may want to see your child or ask you to watch them closely. Be sure to report back if things do not get better each day or are not all better after one week.

How to get rid of a stuffy nose:

Nasal spray

  • Use salt water (saline) nose drops. Give 1 to 2 drops in each opening of the nose (nostril) or spray 1 to 2 sprays in each nostril. For infants, use a rubber suction bulb to suck out the extra drops or spray.

    Tip: When using the suction bulb, remember that before you put the bulb on your baby's nose, first squeeze the bulb part of the syringe. Then, gently stick the rubber tip into one nostril, and then slowly let go of the bulb.
    This slight amount of suction will pull the clogged mucus out of the nose and should help your baby breathe and suck at the same time once again. You'll find that this works best when your baby is under 6 months of age. As your baby gets older, they will fight the bulb, making it difficult to suck out the mucus, but the saline drops will still help.


  • Consider putting a humidifier or vaporizer in your child's room. This helps moisten the air and may help clear your child’s nasal passages. Put it near your child but safely out of their reach.

  • Be sure to clean the humidifier or vaporizer often, as recommended by the manufacturer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers more information on the use and care of home humidifiers here.

What you can do to for your child's cough:


  • Do not give honey to babies under one year—it is not safe.

  • For children ages 1 to 5 years: Try half a teaspoon of honey.

  • For children ages 6 to 11: Try one teaspoon of honey.

  • For children 12 or older: Try two teaspoons of honey.

  • If honey is given at bedtime, make sure your child's teeth are brushed afterward.

Cough drops or lozenges

  • Consider cough drops or lozenges for children 4 and older. Do not give cough drops or lozenges to a child younger than 4 years because he or she could choke on them. Also, do not give your child more cough drops than what the instructions on the package say.

Mentholated rubs

  • For children ages 2 years and older: Rub a thick layer on top of the skin on the chest and the front of the neck (throat area).

  • The body's warmth helps the medication go into the air slowly over time. The child breathes in this air, which helps to soothe a cough, so they can sleep.

  • After using the medicine, put its container away and out of reach of children.

  • Only use mentholated rubs on top of the skin. As with any medication, read and follow the directions closely.

To help treat your child's fever

Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen

  • If your child has a fever and is very uncomfortable, give him or her a medication with just one ingredient―either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always call your pediatrician before giving medicine to a child under 2 years of age and call right away if your child is under three months of age and has a fever.

  • For children over the age of 2 years, check the label to see how much medicine to give. If you know your child's weight, use that. If you do not know your child's weight, go by age for the dose amount. See Fever and Pain Medicine: How Much to Give Your Child for more information.

  • Ibuprofen can be used in children 6 months of age and older; however, it should never be given to children who are having a lot of trouble drinking enough liquids (children who are dehydrated) or who are throwing up a lot.

  • Do not give your child aspirin, which has been linked with Reye syndrome, a rare but very serious illness that affects the liver and the brain.

  • Ask the doctor for the right medicine and dose in milliliters (mL) for your child's age and size. Always measure each dose using a tool (syringe, dosing cup, or measuring spoon) that is marked in milliliters. Watch the video The Healthy Children Show: Giving Liquid Medicine Safely for more information.

Prevention & treatment

Flu vaccine

  • Children 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine each year. Children who are older than 6 months but younger than 2 years should get a flu shot.

  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to get flu vaccines. In order to protect them, make sure that the people around them get a flu vaccine.

Over-the-counter cough & cold medicines

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines should NOT be given to infants and children under 4 years of age because of the risk of dangerous side effects. Several studies show that cold and cough products that are taken by mouth don't work in children younger than 6 years and can have potentially serious side effects.

  • Many cold medicines already have acetaminophen (Tylenol or generic) in them. If you give one of these medicines along with acetaminophen or (Tylenol or generic), your child will get a double dose.

If antibiotics are prescribed

  • Make sure children take them exactly as the instructions say, even if they feel better. If antibiotic treatment stops too soon, the infection may get worse or spread in the body. Call the doctor if your child is not getting better with treatment.

  • If the antibiotic is a liquid, ask your child's doctor for the right dosage in milliliters (mL) for your child's age and size. Always measure each dose using a tool (syringe, cup, or spoon) that is marked in milliliters.

If your child needs to be seen, Campbell County Kid Clinic and Pediatrics are here to help your children feel better. We offer prevention, testing, and treatment for respiratory ailments.

To schedule an appointment, call:

Kid Clinic: 307-688-8700

Pediatrics: 307-688-3636


Source: Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu -

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