"The first symptoms of a cold are often a tickle in the throat a runny or stuffy nose and sneezing," according to KidsHealth. Though your first thought might be the quick relief of cold medicine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend that parents not give decongestants or antibiotics to children younger than 4 years of age because they don't affect the cold-causing virus and have potentially serious side effects. Because time is the only cure for the common cold, a little TLC and natural measures can make your toddler as comfortable as possible while the cold runs its course.
Clear the Road
Clearing the congestion goes a long way toward alleviating your little one's discomfort. Drinking plenty of clear liquids such as water or chicken broth could help. Avoid sugar and products with lactose, such as juice and milk, because they stimulate phlegm production. A cool mist humidifier or a steamy, hot shower can loosen mucus and help your toddler breathe easier. Teaching him to blow his nose with your help is an easy way to clear mucus from the nasal passages and airways. Raise the head of the mattress by putting a pillow under it to keep phlegm from collecting while your tot sleeps.
A Dose of Tender Loving Care
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Your caring and comfort is one of the best medicines for your child." Feeling ill is stressful at any age, but stress is counterproductive to healing. So when your toddler comes down with the first symptoms of a cold, you can promote faster recovery by giving him your time and attention to help him relax. KidsHealth suggests reading, listening to music or watching his favorite movies together. The power of TLC can reassure him and help him remain calm, which promotes the healing process.
Sleep the Trouble Away
When cold symptoms come knocking, you can strengthen your toddler's immune system for fighting the cold by giving him plenty of time to sleep. Extra nap times and earlier bedtimes ensure that your little one's body is rested enough to fight off the virus without draining his energy for other activities. The more rested he is, the more bodily resources are available to drive out the virus and effect a complete recovery to full health.
Focus on Food
Good nutrition is another important way to boost your tot's recuperative powers. According to KidsHealth, "Chicken soup contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine... [that may] help control congestion-causing white cells." The website further warns against the dehydrating effects of caffeinated beverages because of frequent urination. Give your child healthful, balanced food choices and ensure he eats to keep up his strength so his body has enough energy to combat the virus. Love, time, rest, good nutrition and fluids will likely put your toddler on the mend before you know it. However, if he continues to worsen, call your doctor for the best treatment advice.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Cough and Cold Medicine -- Not for Children
- KidsHealth: Chilling Out with Colds
- KidsHealth: Common Cold
- Boston Children's Hospital: Cold (Upper Respiratory Infection)
- Children's Hospital Colorado: FDA Officially Nixes Cough and Cold Meds for Babies and Toddlers
- Group Health: Childhood Colds
- Drexel University Toddler Development Guide: Toddler's Common Illnesses
- Boston University Today: Safe Cures for Kids' Common Colds
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Public Health Advisory: FDA Recommends that Over-the-Counter (OTC) Cough and Cold Products not be used for Infants and Children under 2 Years of Age
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Common Cold and Runny Nose
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
- KidsHealth: Your Child's Cough
- KidsHealth: A Cold or Allergies: Which Is It?
- KidsHealth: Sinusitis
- KidsHealth: Is It a Cold or the Flu?
- KidsHealth: Croup
- Children's Physician Network: Colds and Other Infections: Too Frequent
- Vanderbilt University PMC2722603Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker Program: Handwashing: A Toddler’s Best Weapon Against Colds
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: Colds in Children