If your kids are anything like mine, they’re sick right now. For the third time this winter. Actually, most kids get sick 6-8 times per year, and the average cold lasts 5-14 days. Eek! Two weeks? Eight times a year? Thankfully, there are some things that can help, and we have HUNDREDS of dollars of giveaways at the bottom of this post. The viruses that cause the common cold have a seasonal pattern, and peak activity starts in September and goes through March, so those colds may be clustered, too. These little viruses spread their sickness mostly through infected droplets from someone’s sneeze, cough, or booger somehow making it’s way onto a mucous membrane of the new victim – the eye, the nose, or the mouth. The virus then replicates, making your kid cough and sneeze and have those amazing yellow trails of snot that just ooze constantly from their cute little noses. That’s why handwashing is such an important part of preventing the spread of illness. My son in the above picture, was admitted for a simple COLD (aka rhinovirus). That’s it. 3 days in the hospital for a cold!
It is just impossible, it seems, to not have sick kids in the winter. So what can you do to treat these little ones’ colds? Well, the first thing would be to recognize the illness – if it’s just a cold, and not a more serious ear infection (fever+ear pain+swollen ear drum), strep throat (no cough, sore throat, pus on the tonsils, and swollen lymph nodes), sinus infection (10 days or more without improvement, or significant fever and snot for 4 days), pneumonia (fever, productive cough, and usually very sick feeling), or an asthma exacerbation, the best treatments are what is called supportive measures. These supportive measures help the body feel better while its immune system learns how to destroy the virus.
The basics of supportive measures are to help kids feel better. Tylenol or Motrin for the fever and malaise (crummy feeling), salt water gargles or something called magic mouthwash (1 tsp to 1 Tbsp of children’s benadryl mixed with same volume of Maalox, gargled and swallowed, depending on the size of the child – not for kids under 4 or 5), are great for sore throats. This may be why chicken soup is such a favorite when sick – that nice salty broth!
Cough is its own frustrating beast, and treating cough is frustrating, too. An important point is to not use cough medicines for kids under 12 years old. This is because their little airways are so small they can easily get plugged off by the mucous their sick lungs are producing if they aren’t forcefully coughing out this gunk. If the airway is plugged off, that part of the lung is suffocating – no bueno. So if a kid is under 12 years old, the only real cough measures available are honey, (however they’ll take it – on a spoon, plain, or maybe in hot water with some lemon juice) and then Vick’s Vaporub. Add in a humidifier, and that’s it for the little ones, except maybe a hard candy or cough drop. How frustrating! The good news is that honey helps a lot, though. An important reminder would be to not give your babies less than 12 months old any honey because botulism spores found in honey can cause real problems for these tikes.
The stuffy nose is another real problem. Bulb suction of this goop can really help, especially the littlest ones fighting off RSV (Respiratory syncitial virus) which makes so much mucus the kids can have a hard time breathing through their nose, even needing to be hospitalized! Using some saline drops to “prime” the nose and loosen the boogers up can really help get all of that out. Bulb syringes or nasal aspirator devices (like NeilMed’s NasaBulb or Naspira Plus) work great to keep your little ones breathing easier. Older kids can usually handle a nasal saline rinse (which if you haven’t tried yet yourself when you get a cold, you won’t believe how many huge boogers you can get rid of all at once – and then breathe again!) either by a squeeze bottle or through something like the Netti pot. For kids over twelve, adding antihistamines like Claritin (cetirizine) or decongestants like Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) can help, too. Don’t forget to try a humidifier, too.
So besides Lysol-ing your house, getting everyone to wash their hands, and never letting little Neighbor Johnny come play, what can we do to prevent our kids from getting sick? Well, there are a few things. We love vaccines, and are strong advocates for the annual flu shots in addition to the standard childhood vaccines. Other things that help are probiotics – we even started giving probiotics to our baby at 5 months old. We just put a few drops of a probiotic or part of a capsule of a probiotic in his bottle. Some studies say this can drop the number of school days missed significantly. We also like Cold-Eeze cough drops, with the zinc gluconate ingredient, specifically, because this can either halt a viral infection if taken early and often, or just reduce the length of a cold. And then just remind yourself that they will eventually stop coughing!
So what’s in the giveaway and why do we love it?!? And we do love these things. We are so excited that so many companies have agreed to help us with this giveaway, too!!
- Crane White Drop or Sidney the Sheep Humidifier – the best part about these humidifiers? They make exactly 0% of the noise that the one you grew up with make; it helps that these are cute and stylish, but it seems like some kind of magic that you turn these on and silently a gentle fog starts rising from them! We even got the huge SmartDrop which we love for many reasons – remote control from our phone, the huge tank which lasts for DAYS, and a timer & dimming control, too! We have TWO of these and they run constantly! Crane is offering $10 off any adorable or drop humidifier AND free shipping on your order. Use promo code “INSTA17” at checkout!
- BoogieWipes – ever had a nose get sore from plain old Kleenex? Well, think about your poor baby! And then stop rubbing his or her nose with that rough Kleenex or baby wipes with cleansers & alcohol, and use a gentler BoogieWipe that has some saline in it and makes the whole experience of wiping a baby’s nose less of a torment to the little tyke.
- NeilMed Saline Drops and Bulb aspirator help get all that stick crud out of that little nose so they can breath again. And then they sleep longer. And then you sleep longer!
- Exergen Thermometer – this thermometer is hospital grade; I trust this brand because I used it in multiple different Emergency Rooms as a nurse. It’s easy to keep clean, super reliable, and quiet. No more rectal temps for my boys!
- WubbaNub – brown puppy pacifier; we LOVE these thing!. They really helped our baby learn how to grab a pacifier and self-soothe. Bought us extra hours of sleep in those zombie days of having an infant! They are latex, BPA, PVC and Phthalate Free, too!
And how could we forget Children’s Tylenol and Pedialyte? Staples for a sick child. Tell us below your favorite sick child products!