How to Comfort Your Child at Home When They Have a Cold or the Flu

How to Comfort Your Child at Home When They Have a Cold or the Flu

Sleepless nights and restless days are sometimes part of parenting, especially when caring for your child through a cold or the flu. However, there’s a lot you can do to ease their discomfort as the virus runs its course.

The team at Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, Maryland, offers comprehensive care for children of all ages. From infancy through adolescence, whether your child is due for a newborn checkwell child visitsports physical, or vaccine update, we can help.

Our pediatric specialists are also well equipped to manage chronic conditions such as allergiesasthma, and acute illnesses like a cold, the flu, or another viral infection. And we’re always happy to provide the support you need to ensure your family’s health and well-being.

Check out these tips we’ve put together for soothing your child’s symptoms as their immune system tackles a respiratory virus.

1. Offer fluids, fluids, fluids

Extra hydration during a respiratory illness helps your child feel better, thins nasal secretions, and counters dehydration caused by fevers. Older children and teens can get extra fluids with water, popsicles, juice, and fruit smoothies. Choose products made from fruit, such as natural orange juice, rather than those just flavored with fruit and containing lots of sugar.

Giving older kids chicken soup for lunch or dinner counts toward good hydration and has the added benefit of easing congestion. Cysteine, an amino acid in the broth, reduces inflammation and thins mucus in your airways and lungs, helping you heal more quickly. Note that cream soups don’t have the same effect.

Don’t give babies under 6 months water unless your pediatrician approves. If your baby takes less than usual during a feeding session, try offering formula or breastfeeding more frequently to maintain good hydration. Watch your infant closely, and call our office immediately if you notice signs of dehydration, such as a sunken soft spot, no tears when crying, fewer wet diapers, or lethargy.

2. Tame a cough with honey

Coughing isn’t all bad because it helps clear congestion, but it can make resting difficult. Clinical trials have shown that honey is safer and works better than most cough suppressants. Never give honey to children under 1 year old, but try half a teaspoon for kids ages 1-5, a full teaspoon for children 6-11, and two teaspoons for kids 12 and older.

For children 2 years and older, a mentholated rub applied to the chest and neck area can also calm a cough and make breathing easier so your child can sleep. Be sure to read package directions for frequency of application and safety tips. Cough drops may help, but they’re a choking hazard, especially for kids under 4.

Schedule a visit at Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center for frequent coughing that’s preventing your child from sleeping or resting comfortably. We can prescribe a stronger cough medicine if needed.

3. Encourage rest

Rest helps your child recover faster from a cold or the flu. They may feel better for a while after taking a fever reducer or having a bowl of chicken soup. However, continue to encourage frequent naps. Also, keep activities low-key, such as spending the day on the couch, watching a favorite movie, or coloring. 

4. Humidify the air

Try a cool mist vaporizer to humidify the air and reduce congestion. Clean the machine thoroughly each day to prevent mold. If you don’t have a humidifier, create a home sauna by closing the bathroom door and running hot water in the shower or tub. Sit with your child in the steamy room for 10-15 minutes.

5. Ease aches and pains and lower a fever

Try a warm bath to ease muscle aches and pains and help your little one feel better. Medications such as children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen can lower temperatures and alleviate discomfort.

However, never give a child younger than 2 years old any medicine without checking with our office. Call us right away if your baby is less than 3 months and running a fever. Don’t give your child aspirin for a fever because it can cause Reye’s syndrome, which affects the liver and brain.

6. Call the doctor

We encourage you to call Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center whenever you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms. Call 911 or go to the emergency room if your child is struggling to breathe or becomes lethargic. 

Otherwise, schedule a sick visit whenever your child runs a fever for more than a day, has a significant or barky cough, or seems to be worsening rather than improving. 

Call the office or request an appointment online today.

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