5 Ways to Care for a Child With a Cold

Treating a Child With a Cold Is Diferent From Treating an Adult

Caring for a sick child
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When your child has a cold, you can often feel helpless. As a parent, you never want to see your child suffer, so relieving him of any ailments is of major concern.

When your child has the sneezes and sniffles, or a runny nose and scratchy throat, you need to know how to take care of him.

When children are sick, they need special considerations. They don't always have the same symptoms as adults or require the same treatments.

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Caring for a Child With a Cold

  1. Fever - If your child is suffering from a cold, be sure to check his temperature. Children run a fever with a cold more often than adults. However, if his fever goes above 102 degrees or lasts for more than three days, you should call a doctor to make sure it has not developed into something more serious.
  2. Medication - Make sure that any medication you give your child is just for children and is treating only the symptoms. If he only has a fever and a stuffy nose, there's no need for a multipurpose cold medication that treats a cough also. It is better to give medications that treat one symptom at a time. Also, be sure to check with your doctor to get dosage information for your child's age and weight.
  3. Keeping Him Home - You should always keep your child home from activities (school, camp, daycare, etc) if he is running a fever. That is when he is most contagious and likely to spread the illness to other children.
  4. Keep Hydrated - Make sure your child has plenty of fluids to drink, but not soda or too much juice. Electrolyte drinks are great for replacing lost nutrients when your child is not eating well, but it is very important not to replace more than half of his fluids with these drinks. If your child doesn't feel like eating when he is sick, don't worry about it. Unless he is an infant, it won't hurt him to not eat for a day or two as long as he is still drinking and stays hydrated.
  5. Rest - Perhaps most importantly, make sure your child gets plenty of rest. You don't have to restrict activity completely, but give him adequate time for naps and sleeping. If you pay close attention to your child's behavior and attitude, you will probably be able to tell what he needs and you can help him recover as quickly as possible. Children usually won't play if they don't feel like it.

When Is Your Child's Illness More Severe Than a Common Cold?

Start by looking at your child's breathing. If he seems to be having any difficulty breathing, you need to have him seen by a healthcare provider. Also, if he has a cough that worsens or doesn't go away after about a week, has persistent fever, fatigue or signs of dehydration (decreased urine), he should be seen. Any time cold symptoms last for more than about 10 days, a visit to his healthcare provider is warranted.

A Word From Verywell

As a parent, it's hard not to be overly worried when your child is sick. However, kids get sick a lot, so it's best to keep in mind that they generally recover quickly and don't need much to get better. Trips to the doctor's office usually aren't necessary for every sniffle and cough as most symptoms resolve on their own without any treatment. If you aren't sure, it never hurts to call your pediatrician to get some peace of mind and reassurance.

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Article Sources

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  • Chilling Out With Colds. KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation May 2004.