While there is no instant cure for the common cold or seasonal flu, parents can soothe their youngest children's symptoms. Take this list along to the market to stock up on your cold and flu TLC needs:
Kids' cold and flu relief shopping list:
What? Lemon and honey
Why? Since cough medication is not recommended for children under 6 years old, this sour-and-sweet combo is a natural alternative. Two teaspoonfuls of buckwheat honey may quiet night-time coughing and help your child get a more restful night's sleep. Or squeeze vitamin C filled lemon juice into a cup of warm water and stir in a teaspoon of honey for a mild, comforting tea to coat your little one's sore throat.
What? Unsweetened juice
Why? The fevers and mouth breathing that accompany seasonal flu and colds means that your child will need extra fluids to stay hydrated while sick. Milder juice drinks may go over better than plain water. Dilute juice you already have, but think twice before pouring orange juice. OJ's acidity could irritate a sore throat.
What? Frozen dairy treats
Why? While some believe dairy boosts phlegm and worsens congestion, a frozen dairy treat might actually relieve sore throats. Frozen yogurt, ice cream, or sorbet will go down gently and provide easy-to-digest protein and calcium for unsettled tummies. Or freeze your child's favourite juice into tasty popsicles.
What? Ingredients for a homemade chicken soup
Why? The comforts of chicken soup are many. The steam curls up and moistens a dry nose. The hot, clear broth feels good going down a sore throat and helps to thin out your child's mucus and relieve congestion. Your soup can be as simple as just broth, or it can be dressed up with healthy vegetables, like carrots, celery, and mushrooms.
What? A mentholated ointment
Why? Rub a mentholated salve onto your child's chest or under their nose to create a cooling sensation that can make breathing feel easier. Vicks Baby Rub is a non-medicated option for children under 2, and features oils of eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary instead of menthol or camphor.
What? A cool- or warm-mist humidifier
Why? Switch on a humidifier to moisten the air in your child's room. Some varieties of humidifiers allow you to add steam inhalants containing menthol or camphor that will filter through and into the air.
What? Saline nasal mist and an aspirator
Why? Spray a saline mist into your child's nasal passages to open airways and moisten a dry nose. An aspirator can be used to suction mucus from the nose of babies and very young children who are not yet able to properly blow their nose. To make your own saline solution, mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of table salt and a pinch of baking soda into 8 ounces of tap water (use within 24 hours).
What? Age-appropriate fever-reducing medications
Why? Fever and flu-related aches can make your child uncomfortable and lead to fitful sleep. You can give an appropriate dose of acetaminophen based on the weight of your child. Ibuprofen should only be given to children over the age of 6 months, and ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) is a no-go for anyone younger than 18 years old, as it can trigger Reye's syndrome, a rare but possibly fatal condition. Also, never give a cough drop to a child younger than 3, since it's a choking hazard.