Here’s how you can help when your little one comes down with a cold, with advice from Tesco Pharmacy
Your little one’s developing immune systems make them more prone to picking up illnesses like colds and flus. “Young children usually get around eight colds a year,” says Tesco Pharmacy manager Esra Doganguzel. “Most of the time, all they need is over-the-counter medicine to help with symptoms and good rest to recover.” Here’s how you can help.
1. Make sure you check your little one’s temperature regularly
The best way to take your child’s temperature is using a digital thermometer under their armpit, according to NHS guidelines. If they have a temperature of more than 37.5°C, they have a fever, which can be a sign they’re fighting an infection. Esra recommends treating a fever with Calpol or Nurofen: Calpol Infant Suspension can be used with babies over two months, and Nurofen for Children is suitable for those over three months.
When to see a doctor: Temperatures can spike suddenly in little ones, so do check regularly. “If the child is under three months and has a temperature higher than 38°C – not as the result of a vaccination – we would recommend you see a doctor,” says Esra. “For children over three months with a fever of 39°C or more that doesn’t respond to Calpol or Nurofen, you’ll also need to take them to see the doctor.”
2. Help a blocked nose
A snuffly, blocked nose can be uncomfortable, but there are ways to relieve this in even the smallest of babies. “Saline drops in each nostril can be used in babies from zero to six months,” says Esra. “After three months you can start using a gentle decongestant like Olbas for Children.” To use an Olbas decongestant simply place a few drops (four drops for those below two years, eight to 12 drops aged two and over) onto a tissue or hanky, hold just out of reach, and allow the child to breathe in the vapours.
A nasal aspirator can be used to physically clear your baby’s nose. “These offer instant relief from nasal congestion,” says Esra. “A Snufflebabe aspirator can be ordered through the pharmacy and allows you to manually suck the mucus from your baby’s nose through a mouthpiece, where it collects in a hygienically sealed chamber.” Other aspirators may use a bulb syringe to suction out the mucus.
3. Soothe their cough
Cough mixtures suitable for children under six years old contain glycerol (also called glycerin). “Glycerol works as a mild, moisturizing salve and helps relieve irritation by removing some of the throat’s dryness,” says Esra. She recommends Tixylix Baby and Toddler Syrups. These can be used from three months to five years, as can Benylin Infant’s Cough Syrup. For children from one year old, look out for Benylin Children’s Cough & Sore Throat Syrup. If you’re unsure which product is suitable for your baby, check with your pharmacist in store first.
When to see a doctor: “Colds are viral so antibiotics don’t help,” says Esra. “However if your little one is bringing up green phlegm they may have an infection, which will need medication from a doctor.”
4. Keep them hydrated
Dehydration can be a big problem for children who are poorly, so make sure your little one is getting plenty of fluids as well as rest. “Offer plenty of milk, water, squash or diluted fruit juice,” says Esra. “Some children might not want to drink when they feel poorly, but it’s very important they do.”
When to see a doctor: “If you see that your baby’s fontanelle is sunken, they have dry lips or darker urine than normal, do contact your GP,” says Esra. “These are all signs of dehydration.”
5. Keep an eye on their breathing
Some early cold symptoms, like a runny nose or cough, are the same as symptoms of a respiratory tract infection called bronchiolitis that mainly affects little ones under two. Around one in three children will develop bronchiolitis in their first year. “A few days later, this can develop into a fever, persistent dry cough, difficulty feeding and wheezy or noisy breathing,” says Esra. “There’s no medication to kill the virus, so the best treatment is to avoid dehydration by giving plenty of fluid, and give age-appropriate paracetamol or ibuprofen to help bring down a fever.” However, most cases of bronchiolitis are mild and will get better within a few weeks.
When to see a doctor: See your GP if your child seems to be having difficulty breathing, has drunk less than half their normal amount in the last two or three feeds, has a dry nappy for 12 hours or more, or a persistent high temperature. “Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance if your baby is struggling to breathe or has long pauses between breaths, is pale and sweaty or has a blue tongue or lips,” says Esra.
For more information, ask your Tesco pharmacist. Use store locator to find your nearest Tesco Pharmacy.
Did you find this feature helpful? Have a look at our 8 tips for soothing coughs and colds at night.