Taking Care of an Ill Loved One

Pediatrics And You: The Best Treatment For Your Child's Common Cold

Almost every parent worries when their child develops a nasty cold. Some parents aren't aware that there isn't a lot the doctor can do about a common cold, and rush to the office at the first sign of sickness. The best treatment is at home, unless your child develops a high fever or becomes dehydrated. Medicine cannot cure the common cold.

Bed rest

The body is very capable of healing itself in many situations. Often, one of the best ways to heal is to get plenty of rest. If your little one is feeling under the weather, plenty of bed rest is a good idea. 

Clear fluids

Clear fluids are best for the cold or the flu. Staying hydrated is vital and much more important than food. Sometimes children may not feel hungry when they have a cold. That's okay, as long as it doesn't persist. Becoming dehydrated is a much greater concern. Offer drinks that are sugar-free and that you can see through. You can even purchase special drinks and popsicles with electrolytes or rehydration solutions.

If you notice signs of dehydration, you need to see the doctor immediately. Children don't have to vomit to become dehydrated. Fever and excessive sweating can also be a cause. Some symptoms are:

  • Dry skin that stays rigid when pinched
  • Sunken look to the eyes
  • Dry lips and mouth
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Irritability or lethargy
  • Severe fatigue or dizziness
  • More serious signs (shallow breathing, electrolyte imbalance)

Over-the-counter medication

Most often, over-the-counter medications should take care of your child's symptoms or feelings of discomfort associated with the common cold. Fever is normally treated with acetaminophen in hospital pediatrics wards. Always follow the instructions carefully. Using a mentholated rub on your child's chest and back often eases coughing and helps with any congestion or stuffy nose issues.

It's important not to give aspirin products to children or teens with flu-like symptoms unless directed to do so by your doctor. In 2007, the FDA advised against giving children under 6 years of age cough or cold medication. Remember, the cold is a virus, not a bacteria. It cannot be treated with antibiotics.


It's a good idea to use a humidifier in your child's bedroom at night as well. The moist air will help your child breathe easier, keeping the nose and airway clear. Sometimes children develop a dry cough with the common cold, which can cause a sore throat. The humidifier will help prevent that.

These simple tips will have your little one feeling tip-top in no time. Use great hand-washing to avoid catching the cold yourself.