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Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics won't help your child's cold.
The cold season runs from late August to May. Colds are more common in the winter, when people spend more time together indoors.
The cold virus spreads easily.
- When an infected person sneezes or coughs, tiny drops are sent into the air. Other people breathe in these drops and the virus.
- If an infected person doesn't wash her hands after a sneeze or cough, the germs can be passed on to other people through touching.
Try to keep your baby away from people with colds and teach your toddler how to wash her hands well.
Cold symptoms, which last about seven to 14 days, may include:
- runny nose with discharge, which can be yellow or green or thin and clear
- fever (at the beginning of the cold)
- sore throat
- body aches.
What to do for your child's cold
Never give ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) to a child younger than 6 months old.
Until the virus runs it course, there are some things you can do to help your child feel better.
- Drink extra liquids. Give your child extra water, chicken soup, and other liquids that do not have caffeine.
- Try to get your child to rest as much as possible.
- Add humidity. Take your child into the bathroom. Close the doors and windows. Start a hot shower to steam up the room. Sit with your child — away from the hot water — for about 15 minutes. The steam will help loosen your child's congestion.
- Gargle with salt water (if your child is old enough not to swallow the mixture). Mix one-quarter teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water. Have your child gargle. This will help relieve a sore throat.
- Drink honey and lemon.
- Mix 4 teaspoons of honey, one teaspoon lemon juice and one to two tablespoons of hot water.
- Your child can drink one to two teaspoons of this cough syrup every one to two hours. This will help your child's cough.
- Never give honey to a child younger than 1 year old. This could cause infant food poisoning.
- Use a salt water nose spray.
- Mix one-half teaspoon salt and one cup of water.
- Put it in a dropper. You can buy one at a drugstore.
- Spray the mixture into your child's nose. It will help relieve congestion.
- Treat a fever with medicine if your child is uncomfortable.
- Give your child (if older than 3 months old) acetaminophen. Look for Tylenol®, Panadol®, Tempra®, Liquiprin® or FeverAll®. Follow your health care provider's or the package directions.
- Never force a tablet into your child's mouth. Dissolve it in a small amount of water or let your child chew it.
- Do not give your child aspirin. This can cause a life-threatening condition called Reye's syndrome.
Nasal congestion in infants
Infants breathe in and out of their noses until about 4 months of age. You may need to suction your infant's nose before she eats. You may also need to use saltwater drops to soften the mucus before you suction it out.