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Home Remedies for Sick Children

Rest is Best

Rest helps you heal. And that’s a good reason to keep your child home when she’s not feeling well. It’s even more important if she has a fever. You’ll help prevent spreading the germs to other people.

If she’s not sleepy, she can rest while looking at books, magazines, or her favorite movie. The key is to limit activity. Once the fever passes and she feels more like herself again, it’s time to go back to school.

Keep the Fluids Coming

Give your young child water, milk, or formula to keep her hydrated. If she’s older, you can also give her frozen fruit bars, ice pops, and flavored gelatin. And don’t forget about good ol’ chicken soup.

Cold or Flu?

It can be tough to tell the difference. In general,your child will feel worse with the flu, and he may go from fine to lousy fast. He may be exhausted and have chills, muscle aches, a headache, and a high fever. If you think it’s the flu, call your doctor right away. There’s medication that can help if it’s taken within a day or two of symptoms starting.

Fever Relief

A fever is the body’s way of fighting an infection. But having one can make your child uncomfortable. If she has a fever, she’ll be more comfy in light clothing in a cool room. Put a cool washcloth on her forehead and neck, too.

She may not need medicine to bring down her fever, but she may be able to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your doctor before you give any medicine to a child younger than 2, and follow instructions carefully. Don’t give ibuprofen to infants less than 6 months old.

Kids and Cold Meds

For children under 4 years old, home remedies are the way to go for treating colds. Most cold medicines aren’t good for kids that young. After age 4, you should get your doctor’s OK and read the directions carefully. Don’t give your child medicine made for adults, aspirin, or more than one medicine with the same ingredients.

Clear Stuffy Noses

If your baby’s congested, get rid of the mucus with a rubber suction bulb. Put three drops of warm water or saline in each nostril to soften the mucus, and wait a minute before you suction it out.Raise thehead of your child’s crib or bed 3 to 4 inches to make it easier for her to breathe.

A cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can also help clear the stuffiness. And if her nose is red from too much blowing, put a little petroleum jelly on the skin beneath it

Soothe a Sore Throat

Think hot and cold. Milkshakes, cold drinks, and ice chips numb the throat. Warm broth, tea, or hot apple cider soothe it.

If your child is 8 or older, gargling with warm salt water twice a day may help him feel better. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can ease pain, too.

Calm the Cough

Treat a cough or not? It depends on your child’s age and how much it’s bothering her. A hacking cough that’s uncomfortable and disrupts her sleep needs attention. For kids between 3 months and 1 year, give warm, clear liquids like apple juice, lemonade, or agave nectar.If your child is older than 1, honey can help fend off nighttime coughing fits. Children 6 years or older can suck on cough drops or hard candies, too. 

What else can help? Have your child breathe in the steam from a warm shower, or put a humidifier or vaporizer in her room.

Think Soft Foods

Don’t worry about “feeding a cold and starving a fever.” Just make sure your child eats when he’s hungry. Soft foods that are easy to swallow are more appealing to a child who isn’t feeling well. Try applesauce, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, gelatin, and yogurt.

Tummy Troubles

Kids who’ve got the flu sometimes have upset stomachs with vomiting or diarrhea. If this happens to your child, he’s losing fluids. So have him drink small amounts of an electrolyte solution or water and suck on ice pops. Ginger ale and other sodas, juices, and sports drinks can make diarrhea worse.

A child with diarrhea who isn’t dehydrated or vomiting can keep eating. Just give him smaller portions and more liquids.

Trust Your Gut

Talk to your doctor if you’re worried or if your child’s symptoms are getting worse. Watch for chest or stomach pain, shortness of breath, a headache, unusual fatigue, or face or throat pain that gets worse. Let your doctor know if your child has a fever of 103°F or higher, or has had a fever of 101°F or higher for more than a day. If she’s having trouble swallowing, is coughing up a lot of mucus, or has swollen glands or an earache, you should take her to see a doctor.


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