Though not dire, both of my children were recently ill, signaling the start of the cold and flu season. My son had a sore throat, high fever and a cough, while my daughter thankfully only had a runny nose and suffered from a bad night’s sleep.
Below are a few steps that you can take to make your child more comfortable when they’re suffering with the cold or flu.
Make sure they are well hydrated. It is very easy for a sick child to become dehydrated due to fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or simply from breathing through their mouth when they have a blocked nose. That’s why it’s important to give them frequent sips of fluids. The best choices are plain water, water diluted with fruit or vegetable juice (sugar free of course), or weak herbal teas like peppermint or chamomile. Nut and seed milks are also a good option, however avoid nut milks for children under 2-years-old. I avoid giving cow’s milk because it has a tendency to make a child phlegmier. Babies under 6-months-old who are not yet eating solids should drink as much breast milk or formula as they want.
When the kids are sleeping, humidity in the air can make a big difference in terms of making them more comfortable overnight
. This will help ensure restful sleep, which is very important if little ones are to get well sooner rather than later.
During sleep our body performs many functions to help maintain health and aid the healing process. Healthy 1- to 3-year-olds need somewhere between 12 to 14 hours of sleep a night, 3- to 6-year-olds need about 11 to 12 hours, while 7- to 12-year-olds require 10 to 11 hours of restful sleep. When your child is sick the amount of sleep they need may increase.
A stuffy nose can be a big impediment to having a good night’s rest. There are many ways to help clear a child’s nasal passages but my favorite is to use a saline nasal spray. The pharmacies at Beijing United Family Hospital
and Beijing Vista Clinic
carry this product. It provides fast and effective relief. Children over the age of 2 can also be propped up with a pillow to help them breathe easier.
A bad cough can interrupt a sick child’s sleep and prevent them from catching enough zzzs. To relieve a cough combine ½ tsp of honey with ½ tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice. If your child finds it too acidic reduce the amount of lemon juice to a tolerable amount and add water instead. A warning to parents: A child under the age of 1 should never be given honey. Their digestive system is not fully developed causing them to be at risk for contracting infant botulism. Over the counter cough and cold medications for children under the age of 6 were banned in Canada last year because the medicines proved to be ineffective and actually caused more harm than good. Experts are questioning whether the ban should apply to kids under the age of 12 as well.
Getting sick is an inevitable part of growing up, but hopefully with these suggestions your child will be less miserable, which in turn will make mom and dad less miserable as well!
Dr. Melissa Rodriguez is a Naturopathic doctor and lives in Beijing.
Photo by Flickr user justmakeit