Flus and colds spread like wildfire in families. Before you know it, one kid’s sniffle turns into another’s cough and a parent’s massive headache. It happens fast, so parents need to be prepared. Don’t wait until everyone is down-and-out to get what you need. A home that is well-stocked and ready for flu season is a home where everyone can crawl into bed and begin to recover. Here’s everything you need to be prepared for the onslaught of colds, flu, and COVID this winter.
Prepare for Sniffles
One of the most annoying aspects of a house full of sick kids? Endless sniffling, throat clearing, and phlegm. If this were the 1800s, you’d think you lived in a sanatorium. In addition to teaching kids to turn their heads away from others when coughing, it’s important to enforce blowing their noses with facial tissue rather than wiping drips away with hands. Look for tissues with lotion added, like Puffs Plus, that help soften the grainy feeling after the one-thousandth blow.
Stock Up on Fluids
Colds and flus drain the body of fluids (they help thin mucus and temperature-regulate a fever, among other things), leaving kids dehydrated and cranky. And if they have vomit or diarrhea, fluids are going to be in even shorter supply. Depending on the severity of the situation, Pedialyte is a good option as it replaces electrolytes along with water. Apple juice is another good choice. Skip the OJ if your kid has tummy troubles as the acidic nature of citrus could make matters worse.
Arm Yourself for Cleanup
Sick kids use copious amounts of paper towels. You never know when an eruption of one sort or another is going to occur, and although cloth towels work well if you’re at home and can toss those puppies straight into the wash, paper towels are the way to go when you’re stuck in the car on your way to the in-laws.
Know Your Kid’s Temperature
A thermometer, such as the Vicks Speedread Digital Thermometer, should be a staple in any family medicine cabinet. Although it provides just a small clue in the sick-kid puzzle, it does give you a concrete indicator of when it’s urgent to see a doc (above 103°F for children over 6 months; 100.4°F or higher for newborns). Before you make the purchase, be on the lookout for paperless coupons that can help you save money on your thermometer.
But If They Hate Oral Thermometers
For young kids who struggle with the under-tongue variety, the temple-touch version (like the Exergen Comfort Scanner Temporal Thermometer) provides a reasonably accurate read.
Soothe Their Sore Throat
Kids hate the sharp, jabbing feeling of trying to swallow when their throat is red and swollen. Throat lozenges don’t have any healing powers, per se, but they do provide a smooth coating to the throat’s inner lining, which allows your child to talk and swallow more easily. Ones like Little Remedies Sore Throat Pops are made with honey, not alcohol, so they are kid-safe. (Like any hard candy, these are not advised for children under age 3.)
Ease the Pain of the Flu
If you’re not sure which bottle to grab because there are so many to choose from, you are far from alone. Start with your kid’s symptoms. Sniffles? Consider a nasal decongestant like Dimetapp
If Your Kid Has a Headache and Fever
If they have a headache, feverish kids might do better with Tylenol.
But If It’s More All Over Pain
If it’s more an achy-pain headache, you might start with a dose of Children’s Advil. None of these products actually treat the condition, but they will mask symptoms and help your kid feel better. Whatever you choose, be sure not to accidentally double-serve your kid by mixing and matching meds, as many share the same ingredients in different formulations.
Help Them Relax
The flu can cause serious soreness. Heating pads are an easy, pill-free way to help relax sore muscles. Non-electric versions, like Bruder Medibeads Moist Heat pad, are safer for kids and work almost as well.
Babyganics Vapor Bubble Baths are another way to ease a little one’s sore muscles and congestion naturally with eucalyptus and menthol
It’s not going to be their favorite thing, but a few minutes with a pediatric nasal irrigator can offer tremendous relief for stuffed-up noses in kids ages 4 and up. Look for one with low volume and low pressure to keep things as comfortable as possible for children.
Protect Raw Skin
The pain of chapped noses from excessive dripping and blowing can make a miserable situation even worse. There are multiple topical applications that provide a barrier between raw skin and tissue. Choose one specially formulated for kids’ skin, which can be more sensitive than adults’ skin. For noses that are already chafed and cracked, try Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Baby (it works great for diaper rash, too) — the thick formulation is like the Fort Knox of moisturizers.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.