As the temperature drops and the winter colds and flu season sets in, these practical tips and tricks will help to ease the symptoms of colds in sick and miserable children.
Fact. There’s nobody more desperate than a mum whose little one is suffering a long and lingering cold. With the limitations on medicines a small child can be given, and the hours of crying, unsettled discomfort and sleepless nights ahead, a winter of sickness can test the whole family.
The Royal Children’s Hospital cites that on average, children will contract between 6 and 12 colds per year. That’s a whole lot of sniffles! Babies and kids under 3 are most vulnerable and catch colds more frequently because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
It’s important to understand that colds and flus are viral infections, so antibiotics won’t help when it comes to curing them. However, there are definitely other measures mums can take to help their child feel better while their immune system battles the nasties.
When colds and flu strike in your home with a few handy hints you can quickly assist your little one. Here’s how!
1. Offer Extra Fluids
It’s important to keep sick children hydrated to reduce symptoms and aid their recovery. Fevers can result in rapid dehydration and it’s important to encourage extra fluid consumption. Lots of small sips of water should be promoted. Ice blocks and Hydrolite are great options for older children as they assist in replenishing electrolytes more rapidly. A drink bottle is a great way to make fluids easy for the child to take as well as for mums to check just how much they’ve drunk.
2. Use a Warm Steam Vaporiser
Steam vaporisers increase humidity, adding essential moisture to the air in the room. Because steam is warm, it’s bacteria-free and has great natural benefits in relieving the symptoms of coughs and colds. A vaporiser is a safe way to ease congestion and help little ones breathe more easily during the night. Warm steam assists in opening the airways by dilating the blood vessels as well as relaxing the muscles of the throat and easing the cough reflex. They help to reduce congestion from colds, flu, croup, bronchitis and other upper respiratory illnesses.
3. Add Inhalants to Your Vaporiser for Additional Relief
Steam vaporisers are designed to be used with inhalants, which are special added compounds, usually blends of natural essential oils, with therapeutic benefits. Inhalants can further enhance the benefits of warm steam. There’s even blends to promote calmness and sleep. Your local pharmacist can assist with you with both a vaporiser and its inhalants or you can see more information here.
4. Use a Chest Rub
A medicated chest rub has multiple benefits and can be used on the whole family. A eucalyptus based rub is ideal as it’s a natural expectorant. This means when combined with (body) heat it produces vapours which have an ‘expectorant’ action – similar to the ingredients in chesty cough medicines. Expectorants work by making the body’s mucous secretions less thick, breaking down congestion and making it easier to expel or cough up. Eucalyptus oil is also a proven natural antibacterial and antimicrobial. Of course, there’s also wonderful calming properties in a child being lovingly rubbed after a warm bath and before bed. This soothing routine is great in helping miserable, sick kids unwind and head towards a good night’s sleep.
5. Acquaint Yourself with a Nasal Aspirator
When a newbie mum first discovers nasal aspirators she’s equally joyful and horrified in the same moment. The thought of manually sucking snot from a child’s nose may seem confronting but it’s just ‘another day’ in the wonderful, world of motherhood. The minute you see the amazing relief an aspirator can provide you’ll never look back. Clearing the mucous not only helps a child who can’t ‘blow’ breathe more easily, but prevents post nasal drip. This means the muck isn’t dripping down the throat and onto the chest. Little ones may fuss as you undertake this task but trust us, it’s worth ignoring the short-term protests!
6. Tilt the Cot or Bed
When a baby or child’s head is upright they can breathe more easily. Lying flat can add to their congestion. Of course, relevant to the age of your child, SIDS guidelines must be followed as priority however cots and mattresses can be safely tilted in older children. This action will aid breathing and prevent nasal drip. A child who already sleeps with a pillow can be offered an extra one to prop up on or the mattress can be raised from underneath. Your healthcare professional can advise the safest way to do this based on the age of your child.
7. Loosen a Cough with Honey
Children under one cannot be given honey but for older children it’s a great natural remedy to help with persistent coughs. Studies prove that honey has more impactful results than cough medicine (which is actually now banned for children anyway!) Mums can give 2 to 5 ml of honey a few times during the day and before bedtime. Don’t forget: because honey is sweet, it’s important that your child brushes their teeth.
8. Promote Sleep
It’s easier said than done to keep little one’s quiet but doing so is a sure-fire route to a quicker recovery. Dr David Rapoport, Director of the Sleep Medicine Program at New York University describes sleep as ‘the tune up the body needs’. During sleep, the body makes more white blood cells that are vital in attacking viruses and bacteria. More sleep equals more rapid repair. Fact.
9. Or at Least Promote Rest...
Okay, you might not be able to convince a four-year old to sleep all day (even if you’d actually love the chance to yourself mum!) but setting them up for resting is definitely achievable. Camp them out on the couch with movies, a blanket, their pillow and their pyjamas. Or, give-in to your normal rules and hand over the iPad. Now’s the time to do ‘what it takes’ and promote a calm, healing environment. Tearing around with toys or being in-and-out of the house (and changing temperatures) will only extend the downtime for you all.
10. Reach for the Chicken Soup
You’ve likely heard the old adage, ‘feed a cold, starve a fever’ which is now actually debated for its accuracy in germ-fighting. But when it comes to linking food and illness getting some food into a sick child is good thing. Kids are less likely to be weak and listless if they’ve eaten and you’ve given the body some fuel to burn. If a child isn’t seeking food that’s actually okay (within reason), as long as you keep their fluids up. If you’ve wondered why chicken soup is often mentioned for illness, there’s actually a clinical reason it’s a good choice. Chicken soup contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine. Research shows that chicken soup helps control congestion-causing cells, called neutrophils. If your little one will eat it, offer it.
11. Be Watchful for Tender Skin
Endlessly dripping noses and lots of blowing can lead to damaged and sore skin. Dab Vaseline or a barrier cream on the skin under the nose to soothe rawness and prevent infections should a sore occur.
As a mum, there’s nothing more heart wrenching than having a runny-nosed, tear-stained, snotty child desperately relying on you to make them better. When our kids feel miserable, we feel miserable too. Whilst there is no magic spell that fixes winter colds or flu, there’s certainly ample ways to ease the symptoms. Here’s to a germ-free winter – or at least having the tips and tricks to survive the season.
Euky Bear is one of the nation’s best loved healthcare brands, offering quality Aussie-owned solutions for health and wellbeing for nearly 40 years. With so many years supporting mums, Euky Bear knows a thing or two about sniffles, coughs and colds. You can count on Euky’s soothing natural remedies to be the best choice for your family this winter. This has been a sponsored post for Euky Bear.