Cold Remedies for Kids

October 20, 2023
Picture of a young boy with a cold blowing his nose into a tissue while sitting in bed.

With hundreds of different viruses floating around, it's no wonder children fall ill so often—and it never gets any easier. Watching your child battle a cold can be tough, but there are plenty of ways to help them feel better. We’re here to guide you through cold relief for kids, offering tips for soothing at-home remedies and explaining when you should seek medical advice from a professional.

At-Home Tips for Comfort

When our kids fall ill, we often want to visit a doctor to ask for antibiotics or some other pharmaceutical cure. While a provider may be able to assist you, most colds resolve on their own with time and patience (and antibiotics actually wouldn’t help, since colds are caused by viruses!). You can make your child more comfortable with the following at-home cold remedies for kids:

  • Encourage rest – Ensure your child gets ample sleep. Rest is crucial for their body to fight off the cold virus effectively.
  • Increase elevation – By raising the head of your child's bed or mattress, you can promote drainage and reduce congestion.
  • Use a humidifier – Relieve stuffy, dry nasal passages by adding moisture to the air. Just be sure to regularly clean the device to prevent bacteria and mold from accumulating.
  • Offer plenty of fluids – Hydration is key when we're sick; however, you should avoid caffeinated or sugary beverages and opt for water, herbal teas, and broth instead.
  • Feed them chicken soup – Warm chicken soup doesn't just soothe the throat; in fact, studies suggest it has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce common cold symptoms.
  • Have them inhale shower steam – By producing warm steam, showers can reduce congestion and help your child breathe easier.
  • Buy a saline nasal spray – Saline drops can help clear nasal congestion, especially in infants and younger children who can't blow their noses.
  • Have them gargle salt water – Postnasal drip can cause painful sore throats. Relieve the pain by having your child gargle with warm water containing one-quarter teaspoon of salt.
  • Give them honey – Studies indicate that buckwheat honey actually outperforms dextromethorphan-based cough syrup when it comes to silencing a bad cough. Just be sure to avoid giving honey to a child under one year of age, since this can lead to botulism in rare instances.
  • Use nasal strips – These can be lifesavers when stuffy noses keep children awake at night.

It's not always easy to care for sick children without contracting their illnesses. To reduce your risk, wash their hands and your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizers after every interaction.

When to See a Medical Provider

If you’ve tried at-home remedies for a couple of days but your child’s symptoms remain the same or seem to worsen, it may be time to consult a healthcare provider. If your child has a high fever or difficulty breathing, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.

In some cases, a medical provider may prescribe medications to relieve cold symptoms in kids, such as:

  • Antiviral medications – Since the common cold is often caused by rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, and coronaviruses, antiviral medications may be prescribed, especially for high-risk children.
  • Pain and fever relievers – Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can reduce fever and relieve discomfort. Ensure you follow the recommended dosing for your child's age and weight.

Turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care for Prompt Treatment

At PhysicianOne Urgent Care, we're here to support you in keeping your child as comfortable as possible while they overcome the common cold. For professional, friendly, and empathetic care, visit one of our urgent care locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, or New York. We are open 365 days per year with extended hours and accept most major health insurance plans. Plus, we accept walk-ins and offer a convenient online booking portal where you may reserve your spot in advance. You may also choose to take advantage of our 24/7 integrated telehealth service where you may speak to a medical provider from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about the most effective cold remedies for kids when you visit us today.

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Throughout the visit I felt like the staff really cared. The doctor took his time talking with me about my symptoms, and I felt like he listened to all my concerns and took that into consideration when recommending the right treatment. Thank you!
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