- Cool mist humidifier: It makes nasal passages shrink to allow easier breathing. Cool mist humidifiers are recommended over warm mist humidifiers, which may cause nasal passages to swell, making it more difficult to breathe.
- Saline nose drops or spray: These keep nasal passages moist and "running," rather than stuffy.
- Nasal suctioning: Using a bulb syringe to suction nasal passages, either with or without salt water nose drops, works well for infants less than a year old. Older children often don't like the nasal syringe and will fight its use. Call the doctor right away for any fever in infants less than 2 months.
- Acetaminophen can be used to reduce fever, aches and pains in children older than 2 months. Parents should read the packing carefully and prescribed dosing.
- Ibuprofen can be used to reduce fever, aches and pains in children older than 6 months. Parents should read the packing carefully and prescribed dosing.
- Drink plenty of liquids to stay well hydrated.
- Nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline, such as Afrin, are not intended for children under 6 years old.
Very young children should not take most over-the-counter cough and cold medicines because they are ineffective and, if too much is taken, can cause serious side effects, according to Guiot, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Erratic behavior
What parents can give their kids is "lots of loving and being held," she says.