Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How To Treat A Toddler's Cold

Example of an Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Dosage Chart

We've been battling a nasty cold at our house this week. One of the first questions I often get asked as a mother and a nurse is "What do I use to treat my son when he's ill?" Well here's what's in my cold arsenal:

For fever in a toddler, I prefer to use Children's Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Most often I use the chew-tabs, because my son prefers them. But if he is being resistant I will mix a liquid Tylenol dose in with his beverage. Remember to always follow the dosing directions on the package. Most have a weight chart on the back for dosage administration. In addition, if his skin becomes clammy, then I also rub him with a cool, damp washcloth. For a fever higher than 104 degrees or a persistent, long-lasting fever, you need to call the doctor. NEVER give adult Tylenol to a child. It is a much higher dosage and is not safe. And aspirin should NEVER be used in children because it can cause deadly Reye's Syndrome.

For minor pain, Tylenol chew-tabs are still my first choice. But for more severe pain, such as in the case of an ear ache, I use liquid Children's Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). As with Tylenol, Ibuprofen is dosed according to your child's weight. I always give it with milk or a meal to avoid stomach upset. Here, too, you need to always follow the dosage directions on the package. And NEVER give adult Ibuprofen to a child.

Most traditional over-the-counter cough and cold medicines CANNOT be used in toddlers because they contain Dextromethorphan, a medication which is unsafe in children under 6. However there are several homeopathic over-the-counter remedies available for children over 2. I have tried several and found most ineffective. The only one that seems to take the edge off of my son's cough is Similasan's Cough & Fever Relief. It is dosed according to age. Mostly though I rely on home remedies too soothe coughing in my little one. Honey is a natural cough suppressant. And warm liquids such as chicken broth can soothe coughing as well as a sore throat. And exposure to steam or a humidifier also helps quell a croupy cough. If it's nasal drainage that's causing the cough, then be sure to give your child plenty of liquids to drink to thin out nasal secretions. You can also use over-the-counter Saline spray for nasal congestion in your toddler.

Preventing Dehydration
Lots of time when a child is sick they will refuse to eat or drink. But it's highly important to prevent them from becoming dehydrated. Pedialyte makes a great line of juices and popsicles that combat dehydration. However, my son dislikes the taste of these, so I use Gatorade as a fallback and natural fruit popsicles. If your toddler DOES NOT have at least 1 wet (pee) diaper every 8 hours or becomes lethargic or listless, then you need to call your pediatrician immediately!

Get well soon!

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