Caring for the Common Cold
Taking care of you and your family
Deal with It (for Babies & Toddlers)
You certainly have my sympathy if you and your children are sick at the same time. (Read our full guide on this unfortunate time, here.) It’s good to know that it’s perfectly fine to keep breastfeeding while you have a cold. The antibodies your body is producing to fight off your cold will be passed to your baby and help make his immune system stronger.
Should he stay home? With older children, you may not be sure if you should keep your child home from daycare or school. If so, it might help to ask yourself, “If another parent whose child looked/acted/sounded like this sent their child to school today, would I think that was appropriate?”
Colds are tough. Your child is too sick to go out and be with others, but not so sick that all he wants to do is lie in bed passively all day. This is where you come in. First, treat the whole thing as a special time. Don’t let your child’s whining about needing to stay home and (horrors) take a nap get to you. Remember, you are doing what’s best for your child, and keeping her home one day now just may prevent her from staying home two days next week, after she’s really run down. Snuggle up in bed or on the sofa and read a special book. Find some (quiet) toys your child hasn’t played with in a while and put them out. Hope for the best!
Up liquids! Increasing your child’s fluid intake is key during this phase. Drinking is vital to rehydrate a tired little body that is losing fluids to an ever-increasing mound of tissues next to the sofa. Stay on a good nutritional track, using water and juices (diluted if your child is drinking more than usual) as your main resources. Steer clear of milk and other dairy products, as they increase mucus production in most people. And don’t let your kid con you that soda counts as a healthy drink!
You can even try warm tea with honey in it if your child wants to feel like a grown-up, but bear in mind:
“Because honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum and this has been a source of infection for infants, children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey. Honey is safe for persons one year of age and older.” — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Combat fevers. Dress your child in layers in case she gets a fever, and remember that fever is a sign that your child’s body is coping well with the illness. Dr. Andrew Baumel, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Framingham Pediatrics in Massachusetts, notes that “fever is not your enemy. Parents should remember that fever is not the disease; it’s a symptom. Our immune systems work better at higher temperatures.”
Fever is your body’s way of providing an unfriendly environment for the virus to be in. So, go fever, go! You should use fever-reducing medication only if your child is uncomfortable (or, of course, if your child has a medical condition, such as a history of febrile seizures, that occur with fever).
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