Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sick Kids? Alternatives To Cough And Cold Meds

As the mom of 2 children under preschool age, my heart was broken when the FDA announced their new recommendations regarding cough and cold medicines for children under 2. The findings suggested that children under 2 should not take any over the counter cold medicine, as there is a laundry list of serious side effects that could result. Many of these come from giving a child the incorrect dosage, as there is no actual recommended dosage for children of this age range.

First, I was a bit afraid, as the older of the pair of babies is just turning 2 and last year I gave him cough and cold meds on a couple of occasions. Once I read the study and realized that I had obviously done now harm, I began to wonder what I would do for the inevitable next cold. Nothing is more miserable than a coughing, stuffed up baby who can get no relief, so I started hunting for alternatives to medication. Here are a few treatments that I have tried or am going to try.

  • Steam treatments - My mother always swore by a humidifier in our room when we were sick as kids. While I haven't made the purchase yet, I figure I can try the approach of turning on a hot shower and steaming up the bathroom to help to relieve the congestion of the next cold.
  • Saline and Suction - Saline drops are supposed to loosen the mucus in the nose, and the suction bulb will help remove it. This does work, but boy do my kids scream whenever they see me coming with the bulb!
  • Extra Liquids - Replacing fluids is said to keep any mucus from becoming too thick. While my kids aren't big water drinkers, if there is just enough juice added to give it some flavor, they'll take it. Oh, by the way, chicken soup counts, too!
  • Vapor Rub - Many do not suggest using rubs on babies' chests, but I've read that you can put a little on their feet and it will give them some relief. There are also infant versions that are a bit less intense.
  • Raise The Bed - Putting a rolled up towel or blanket under the head of the mattress might help them sleep a bit better and breathe easier. Just make sure you never put anything in a crib with an infant, under the mattress is much safer. This suggestion wouldn't work with my crew, but might work for someone else. My kids sleep all over the mattress, upside down, sideways...wild little sleepers!
If anyone else has some tried-and-true cold remedies for babies, please share them in the comments. I hope none of us will need them, but they will certainly be welcome if we do!