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Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines can cause serious side effects in young children. Therefore, in October 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended OTC cough and cold medicines never be used in children under 4 years of age.
From age 4 to 6, OTC medicines should be used only if recommended by your child's doctor. After age 6, the medicines are safe to use, but follow the dosage instructions on the package.
Fortunately, you can easily treat coughs and colds in young children without these non-prescription medicines. Good home remedies are safe, inexpensive and as beneficial as OTC medicines. They are also found in nearly every home. See below to learn how you can treat your child's symptoms with simple but effective home remedies instead of medicines.
For a runny nose, just suction or blow it. When your child's nose runs, it's getting rid of viruses. Antihistamines (such as Benadryl®) do not help the average cold. However, they are useful and approved if the runny nose is due to nasal allergies (hay fever).
If your child has a blocked nose, use nasal washes according to the following instructions:
For children who are coughing, use homemade cough medicines.
Help your child drink plenty of fluids. Staying well hydrated thins the body's secretions, making it easier to cough and blow the nose.
If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier. Moist air keeps nasal mucus from drying up and lubricates the airway. Make sure you know what kind of humidifier you have and how to use it safely.
Many children with a cough or nasal congestion are happy, play normally and sleep peacefully. Only treat symptoms if they cause discomfort, interrupt sleep or really bother your child (such as a hacking cough).