Wednesday 9 December 2015

How to Care For Your Toddler When They Have a Cold

The season of goodwill is upon us. Fairy lights, Christmas trees, tinsel and the common cold. Oh yes! Just before and during Christmas is the time our little ones will catch a cold and all our festive plans will go on hold until they are better.

In fact children get between 8 and 12 colds a year, and most of these between September and March. No wonder they always seem to be coughing and have a runny nose.

Bear has been very poorly recently with a cold and so I have spent ages on the internet looking for advice on what I could give to a 14 month old to help. The advice I found varies slightly with age, below is for toddlers over 6 months of age. I also spoke to a pharmacist and their advice was to carry on as we were doing (as below). He also tried to sell me a homoeopathic cough mixture, which I politely refused.

picture of toddler with foot in tissue box
Bear, when he was really poorly, wearing a tissue box

Most colds in children over 6 months old will go away by themselves in 6 - 10 days but we can help by limiting the symptoms.

The symptoms of a cold are;

runny nose
sore throat
sometimes a raised temperature (fever)

If your toddler does not start getting better in a few days or has any other symptoms seek advice. In the UK you can call NHS health-line on 111.

So to save you some time searching the internet this is the advice I found. 

Can we prevent a cold?

The common cold is a virus and is spread by droplets (when someone sneezes) or touching some thing someone with a cold has touched. This is difficult to avoid with toddlers seeing as everything they touch goes straight into their mouths but the best you can do is to wash their hands before meals.

8 tips on how to care for your toddler when they have a cold

1. To help prevent them from coughing when sleeping raise one end of the cot so they are not lying flat. Either put something under the legs or raise the mattress with a pillow underneath. Do not be tempted to lay your child directly onto a pillow.

2. Keep the air moist. If you have one, use a humidifier if not then put a damp towel on the radiator or just a bowl of warm water in the room. Many sites suggest shutting the bathroom door and running the hot tap or shower until the room is full of steam and sitting in there with your child for 10 minutes or so, whilst this is excellent advice it's not always practical in the middle of the night.

3. Vapour rub and oils. Use a vapour rub, such as Snuffle Babe on their chest and back and soles of their feet* (*this is an old remedy that really does work although you wont find it on any official site!). This is especially effective just before they nap or sleep for the night. A few drops of an oil such as Olbas oil on a tissue and put in their bedroom will gently release vapours to help relieve their blocked nose.

4. To help prevent a sore nose from all that wiping we used wet wipes (mummy's idea) instead of tissues. There is probably something designed especially for this but we all have wet wipes to hand.

5. Saline drops are said to be useful if your little one has a blocked nose due to dried up mucous, Bear had just a runny nose so we didn't use any.

6. If your toddler has a sore-throat or a temperature and is distressed then you can give childrens paracetamol (Calpol) or ibuprofen (Nurofen). Do not give them both at exactly the same time but you can stagger them as long as you do not give more than the recommended dose. Read the instructions and do not be tempted to give "just a bit more" or an extra dose. Overdoses can kill.

7. Do not give your toddler or child under the age of 4 any over the counter medicines such as cough mixture or decongestants. These are not designed for young children and can be harmful. Do not give aspirin to any child under 16 as they can get Reye's syndrome, although rare it is a very serious condition.

8. Lots of fluids. They may lose their appetite but will need to drink fluids. Bear really worried us as he refused everything but we just kept offering different drinks, squash, water, milk.

I really hope your little ones do not have a cold over the festive season but if they do I hope this guide has helped.

Do you have any tips that you could share? I'd love to read them in the comments. 


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