Snotty noses and winter go hand and hand.
It is definitely winter! Cold and gray and a little cooped up! Cabin fever is common in a home with children during these winter months. So are running noses, coughs, fevers and other sicknesses!
There were winters when I swore the kids had runny noses all January, February and March! The truth is, they probably did. The average child has six to ten colds a year lasting about 10 days each…and most of those are in the winter! So chances are your child has a runny nose now. Even though I was a pediatric nurse practitioner, the first time I saw green snot from Corri’s nose, I can’t lie….my heart skipped a beat. “What do I do now?” Gathering my wits, I knew the best thing to do was take care of the symptoms…no medicine will help a child get rid of a cold faster. Just a few tips to tackle the most common childhood illness. Put on the chicken soup….it is cold season.
How should I treat my child’s cold?
- No medicine will make the cold go away faster. Do not use over the counter cold medications.
- Offer liquids often, especially if your child has a fever.
- Use a bulb syringe to suction you your child’s nose. Children can’t blow until about age 2. You may use saline nose drops to loosen mucous in the nose. I guarantee, your child won’t like this!
- Use petroleum jelly around the nose to protect the skin from irritation from nasal drainage.
- Use a cool mist humidifier or vaporizer your child’s bedroom. This will keep that “snot” draining a bit better, and make it easier for your child to breath with the dry winter heat.
- Elevate the head of your child’s mattress. If your child is in a crib, place a couple of towels between the mattress and the crib springs
- Give acetaminophen to ease your child’s discomfort or fever.
- May give a teaspoon of honey for a cough for children older than one year. If giving before bed, brush teeth afterwards. Honey has been proven to be as effective as cough syrup!
- Antibiotics will not help a viral cold go away faster, I promise!
When do I call the doctor?
- Call if your child begins pulling at ears or becomes increasingly fussy.
- Call if there is thick yellow or green drainage from your child’s nose for more than 10 days.
- Call if there is a worsening cough or difficulty breathing.
- Call if your child is wheezing.
- Call if your child develops a fever after a few days.
- Call if your child refuses to drink.
- Call if your child’s symptoms get worse after 5 days.
- Call if you are worried or anxious about your child’s cold symptoms. Always better to call than worry!
How do I prevent colds?
- Hand washing is the number one way to prevent colds and illnesses.
- Show your child good hygiene by blowing into a tissue and turning you head to cough rather than coughing and sneezing into your hands.
- Make sure that your child has a healthy diet, is sleeping enough, and is not in closed crowded areas during flu and cold season.
- Use a humidifier in your home and/or child’s room. This keeps your child’s noses from drying out with the heat resulting in stuffiness.
- Do not smoke around your child. Children in homes where parents smoke have increased number of colds and ear infections.
Don’t stay home just because your child has a runny nose if they don’t have a fever and seem to be feeling OK. You may be home all winter if you do that! And, if they are a bit under the weather, enjoy the extra cuddle time. The sun will shine again, I promise!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.