Cold season is just over the horizon, maybe not quite visible but if you listen carefully you’ll hear the hacking and wheezing. Even if you don’t listen carefully, you’ll still see all the terrible ads of hacking and wheezing all over the place. Get you and your kids prepped with this quick guide.
The nice guy in the white coat at the drugstore might not know what he’s talking about when it comes cold solutions for kids.
The Pharmacy Is Not Your Friend
The American Academy Of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend the use of any over-the-counter cold or cough medicines for kids under 6 and the FDA makes manufacturers of those medicines warn against use for kids 4 and younger. Despite that, something like 10 percent of kids in that age range take them every week, and 7,000 of them wind up in emergency rooms every year due to incorrect use. All that bad news is compounded by the fact that the majority of high quality trials have shown most of those medicines to be no more effective than placebos in kids or adults.
For an exhaustive explanation of why your kids don’t need any of those bright purple and orange drugs in the cold aisle, check out this article. For a similar, fact-based takedown of increasingly popular homeopathic or natural remedies, see this. Both pieces, from the site Science Based Medicine neatly summarize the research that strongly indicates the nice guy in the white coat at the drugstore might not know what he’s talking about when it comes cold solutions for kids.
OK, Fine. So What Is My Friend?
Most of the symptoms your adorable ball of phlegm experiences are actually expressions of the immune system fighting the cold virus, which means they’re a good sign. That doesn’t mean coughing up lungs and running fevers is any fun, though, and these products can help.
Hydration is key to dealing with any illness and, while that stuff coming out of your taps will do in a pinch, Drip Drop combines a “golden ratio” of sodium, potassium, magnesium and glucose that increases the intestine’s ability to absorb water. Doctors Without Borders uses the stuff in disaster zones, so it can handle a sick kid.
Honey (from $5)
Eucalyptus, labiatae, citrus … it don’t matter. While the entire drug store shelf of “cough suppressants” are proven to be no more effective than sugar pills, a 2012 study found 2 teaspoons of honey before bed improved sleep in kids between the ages of 1 and 5..
Since the first prescription any doctor gives a sick kid is “rest,” the last thing you want to do is have to wake that kid up every few hours to put a thermometer in their mouth (or … elsewhere). Not all parents like temporal artery thermometers, which take readings off the forehead or neck and can be a little tricky to use, but if you can master this one you can get accurate readings without waking anyone up.
These aren’t the only 1-gallon humidifiers you can use to keep a nursery or kid’s room comfortable in cold, dry weather, but they are the only ones that come in 16 different anthropomorphized animal shapes. Let your kid pick their favorite and they’ll actually get excited about their first cold of the year.
Spot is full of long grain rice and aromatics that can be heated in a microwave to provide a comforting plush bedtime companion. Whether you buy into the proposed beneficial effects of aromatherapy or not, at least Spot won’t stink after he’s covered in snot and mucus.
Aqueduck Faucet Extender ($10)
Cold prevention comes down to one thing above all others: hand washing. The Aqueduck can help promote that by turning your bathroom faucets into a little guy who your kids want to hang out with. Keeping their hands clean will limit the chance of them contracting a cold virus, but you’re on your own with the nose picking.
This selection from Scholastic features sick dinosaurs and groundhogs, as well as songs and activities that will hopefully distract your kid from the fact that they feel like puking all over you.