When giving cough and cold medicines to children, it’s important to know that these medicines treat symptoms, but they do not cure a cough or a cold.
The makers of children’s over-the-counter cough and cold medicines have changed the recommended age for dosing to avoid serious side effects that may occur. Labels read, “DO NOT USE IN CHILDREN UNDER 4 YEARS OF AGE” in an effort to prevent harm and misuse of these products.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers:
- Talk to your health professional before giving a child any cough or cold medicine.
- Do not use a cough or cold medication if your child takes other prescription or over-the-counter medicines (unless you have checked with the doctor or pharmacist first).
- Do not give a child cough and cold medicine made for adults.
- Chose single ingredient products to decrease risk of side effects.
- Read the label carefully. Never give two or more medicines that contain the same ingredient.
- Follow the directions on the label. If there are no directions for your child’s age and weight, call your health professional and ask for dosing instructions.
- Use the measuring device (measuring spoon, dropper, or dosing cup) that comes with the medicine.
- Never use kitchen teaspoons or tablespoons because they may not be accurate.
- Never use the measuring device that comes with another medication.
- Choose medication bottles that have child-resistant safety caps.
- Store the medicine out of reach of children.
Other Options for Treating Colds:
Here are a few alternative treatments for infants to help with cough and cold symptoms.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated which will help thin mucus.
- A cool mist humidifier helps nasal passages shrink and allow easier breathing. Do not use warm mist humidifiers. They can cause nasal passages to swell and make breathing more difficult.
- Saline nose drops or spray keep nasal passages moist and helps avoid stuffiness.
- Nasal suctioning with a bulb syringe -- with or without saline nose drops -- works very well for infants less than a year old. Older children often resist the use of a bulb syringe.
- In children older than 1 year old, honey may be used to ease cough and sore throat. Honey can be toxic to infants less than 1 year old.
Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for further treatment advice.