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The Best Home Remedies for Sick Children

When your kids catch a bug, it's tempting to turn to over the counter medications to help them feel better. Read more to find out why natural remedies may be your best bet.

Most parents think that the best thing to do for their children who catch a cold or flu virus is to give them over-the-counter medications. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some of these medications may not be safe or effective for children under six years old. If your child has cold or flu, it would be best to rely first on these gentle and safe home remedies that will make your little one feel much better.

Rest, Rest and More Rest
To fight an infection, you need to have energy. While kids often seem to have it in abundance, illness can definitely leave them feeling zapped. That’s why your little one needs to get plenty of rest when illness strikes. Studies also show that stress can make the illness worse. To encourage your child to have a full rest, give him a comfortable place. It doesn’t always have to be the bedroom. If the weather is nice, you can set up a place in the porch or yard where he or she can rest and lie down. Cuddle up and read books together. Tell stories or draw pictures. All these strategies will help encourage relaxation.

Warm Steamy Air
It’s also advisable to let your child breathe in moist air as this can help loosen the mucus even the stubborn ones inside the nasal passages. For this, you’ll need a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer. Be sure to use the humidifier according to the directions of the manufacturer. Don’t forget to clean it first before using. Remember, humidifiers accumulate mold so they need to be kept very clean. If you can’t get your child to sit in front of a vaporizer or humidifier, warm baths also do wonders to break up mucus and have the added benefit of calming and soothing your child.

Saline Drops
Saline drops are recommended for children who haven’t yet learned to blow their nose. Saline drops are salt water solutions that are available in drugstores without prescription. You may also prepare your own saline drops. To make this, dissolve one-half teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Store it in a clean and covered glass jar. Dispose leftover after 24 hours since bacteria can grow in this solution. To use it, have your child tilt his head back a little. Be sure to support the head with your lap or hand. Squeeze two to three drops of the solution into each nostril and hold the same position for about 30 seconds. The solution will thin and loosen up the mucus. Use the solution once to three times a day. Anything more than that can dry the nasal passage and can make the illness worse.

Vapor Rubs
Do you remember your mom rubbing your chest or back with camphor, eucalyptus or menthol vapor rub when you were still a child? According to research, these ingredients don’t get rid of nasal congestion. But they do make children feel much better through the cool sensation that they provide. Vapor rub products can be purchased in most drugstores. There are even products made specifically for babies who are three months and older. This baby-safe version contains oil, eucalyptus and petrolatum. Camphor and menthol should never be given to children below two years old. Massage the vapor rub on your child’s chest, back and neck. Don’t put it on areas that have broken or sensitive skin. Don’t apply it on his nose, eyes or anywhere on the face.

Push Those Fluids
Drinking plenty of water is always recommended. It’s even more helpful in times of cold and flu. Fluids can help flush out and thin nasal secretions. They can also help in the prevention of dehydration. If plain water is not too appealing for your child, make fruit smoothies, ice pops and other healthful drinks. Stay away from soda and other caffeinated and sugary beverages that would only bring about dehydration. Babies who are younger than six months may not need extra fluids other than breast milk or formula.

Chicken Soup for the Sick Child's Soul
Chicken soup and other warm liquids are not only soothing, they also provide relief from nasal congestion. According to researchers, chicken soup has been found to relieve symptoms of cold including fever, fatigue and muscle aches. Other warm liquids like milk, apple juice and homemade soup are also ideal.

All these strategies can help you and your child get through cold and flu season without having to resort to over-the-counter drugs quickly and safely.

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