Sick Day Solutions for Your Little One

Cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle. It’s no fun for anyone when your little one is sick. What can you do when your toddler comes down with a cold? Here are a few ways to make your child more comfortable while his immune system takes care of the virus.

Offer liquids
Encouraging your toddler to drink fluids throughout the day -- even if it’s just a sip or two at a time -- will help soothe a sore throat, ease a cough, and keep mucus thin, making it easier to cough up or flow out. Serving watery foods, like soup, applesauce, watermelon, or frozen fruit bars, is another way to get more fluids into your child.

Create humidity
Sitting in a steamy bathroom with a hot shower running can help unclog stuffy noses and ease coughs. For other parts of the house, consider running a cool-mist humidifier.

Use saline
Saline (saltwater) nose spray or drops are a safe and effective way to thin mucus so it flows out more easily (if you’re not sure if your child needs saline sprays, ask your pediatrician). Use a rubber suction bulb after the saline to suction the mucus out.

It’s good for your child to take it easy when he has a cold, but he’s unlikely to want to spend the whole time in bed. Here are some restful activities for toddlers who are feeling under the weather. 

  • Story time: Grab your little one’s favorite books, snuggle up on the couch or bed, and read together. Your toddler will appreciate the closeness as much as he enjoys the stories.
  • Bath time: If your little one likes playing in water, gather his bath toys and fill up the tub. Soaking in warm water is soothing, and the humidity will ease coughs and nasal congestion. If your toddler doesn’t want to get in the tub, run a hot shower and draw pictures on the steamed-up mirror instead of getting wet.
  • Table time: Puzzles, building toys, stickers, stamps, and coloring books are all restful sick-day pastimes.
  • Pretend time: Imaginary play often begins when a child is around 2 years old, so if you have an older toddler who’s down with a cold, his toys might be feeling sick, too. Caring for Mr. Bear by giving him nose drops or taking his temperature may encourage your toddler to accept the same. And if you ask if Mr. Bear has a sore throat, your child’s answer may help you figure out what he’s feeling as well.

So who needs medicine to combat a cold? With a few home remedies and some tender loving care, your toddler will be up and running before you know it.