Most colds in children do not develop into complicated medical emergencies, however, parents or caregivers may worry and stress over them. Understandably, they might want to give the baby some cough medicine.
Most children get better on their own and a baby cough medicine will not change the natural course of a cough or cold. Moreover, some baby cough medicines have serious side effects such as slowed breathing. Due to such reasons, you must know what baby cough medicines you are giving your child, when you should consult a doctor, or what you can self-administer medicines for your child.
Nowadays, symptoms of cough and cold are understandably worrisome because they could be the symptoms of COVID-19. Here are some ways to get your worries an answer.
Ways to Treat Colds in Children and Infants
The normal symptom of a cold is cough and it helps the body to clear the mucus from the airways. This way the lungs stay protected. Non-drug treatments for coughs include consuming plenty of warm drinks to soothe the throat. You could follow these tips to relieve symptoms of cough and cold in children and infants:
- Cool mist humidifier: A cool-mist humidifier can help you breathe easier as it decreases the congestion inside the nasal passages. Using warm mist humidifiers is not recommended as they might cause swelling in the nasal passages which will make breathing more difficult.
- Saline nose drops: Saline nasal sprays or drops help in keeping the nasal passages moist. This way the nasal passages stay clear of stuffiness.
- Bulb syringe: You could also suction your nasal passages with a bulb syringe or other similar product. You could use saline drops or do it without one as either way this method works wonders for kids younger than 1 year. You can do this with older children too but they tend to resist it.
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These can be used to reduce pain, aches, and fever. Do read the instructions on the label and follow them accurately to understand the dosage. Or better talk to a healthcare provider or a pharmacist about the dosage.
Should You Give Your Baby Medicine for Cough and Cold?
OTC (Over The Counter) medicines will be able to treat symptoms of cold and cough. However, the FDA has no recommendations for these OTC medicines for children younger than 2 years as they might lead to serious side effects that could be potentially life-threatening. Usually, you will find warning labels on such baby cough medicines from the manufacturers that say,” Do not use it in children under 1 year of age.”
Several OTC cold and cough products contain ingredients that may lead to accidental overdosing. Nonprescription cold and cough medications could be harmful to kids if:
- They consume more than the recommended dosage.
- They consume the medicine more than the number of times recommended.
- They take more than one medication containing the same drug (for instance, taking a painkiller containing acetaminophen and taking cough and cold medication containing the same).
How Can You Be Sure of The Dosage of Baby Cough Medicine?
The FDA urges manufacturers of medications to provide dosing instruments like a cup or a syringe. There are measurements in these instruments so that you never give the wrong dosage. Do not use household items like spoons to measure your medicines. Also, avoid giving your children packaged medicines and those made for adults as the dosage might be fatal for a child.
What About Homeopathic Baby Cough Medicines?
Whether you buy online or at a pharmacy, you may see some medicine advertised as homeopathic medications for children having coughs and colds. These homeopathic medicines are drugs that tend to mitigate or treat colds even though some of such homeopathic medicines might look similar to dietary supplements.
Such medicines have very small quantities of highly diluted substances including ingredients from chemicals, minerals, bacteria, human sources, animal sources, and plant sources. These products include active drug ingredients more than what is mentioned on the medicine’s label. FDA has not approved any products of homeopathy in the U.S. as they do not meet FDA’s effectiveness and safety standards.
In some instances, young children under the age of 4 who took these products experienced serious side effects that require hospitalization including:
- Low blood sugar and low blood potassium results in weakness, drowsiness, crankiness, and headache.
- Difficulty breathing, allergic reaction, and seizures.
The Bottom Line: When Should You Call a Doctor?
Not every cough or sniffle merits a trip to the doc but when in doubt always call a healthcare provider. If you see any of these symptoms in your child,
- Persistent ear pain
- Excessive sleepiness or crankiness
- Not drinking or eating with dehydration signs such as decreased urination
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath, ribs showing with each breath, fast breathing, wheezing, nostrils widening with each breath, and labored breathing
- Blue lips
- A fever of 102 degrees F or higher
- A fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher in 2-month-old infants and yonder babies
- What cough medicine is safe for babies?
For children up to 15 years of age, you may give anti-inflammatory medications like naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen ( Motrin, children’s Advil, etc.)
- Which syrup is a baby cough medicine?
For children aged 1 and above, you can use 2 to 5 ml of honey. Honey helps in thinning the mucus which loosens the cough. Instead of honey, you could also use corn syrup. Honey is better than store-bought cough syrups.
- What can you give your baby for coughing at night?
When your baby coughs at night, you could try,
- Giving them acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Saline nose drops
- Nasal suctioning
- To use a cool-mist humidifier