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Cold Medications for Your Child, Plus Week in Review

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Dear Elizabeth,
Are cold medications safe to give to my child?
Elizabeth's Tips
Elizabeth Sanchez
Elizabeth Sanchez
Host
  • Infant cold medications which combine fever reducers along with cold and cough ingredients have been recalled.
  • Read package labels very carefully.
  • Always use the dropper or medicine cup that comes with the specific medication you are giving.
  • Keep a written log of the time and amount of medication given.
  • Do not give more than one medication at a time without consulting your physician.
  • Keep all medications safely out of your childís reach.
  • Make sure all caretakers are aware of both the dose of the medication and when it needs to be given.
Week in Review
Donít forget about the great things that we learned this week:
Expert Advice
Tanya Remer Altmann
Tanya Remer Altmann
Pediatrician
Medicines That Have Been Recalled
Infant cold and cough medications, specifically those made for children under age 2, have been recalled. This doesnít apply to fever reducing medications, such as Tylenol, but any combination medication that has fever reducer along with cough or cold ingredients has been taken off the market.

Studies have shown that cold and cough medications are not very effective in treating the symptoms. They wonít help a cold go away or shorten its duration. In very young children, such medications may pose rare, but serious side effects such as increased heart rate, seizure and death.

In addition, dosing cough and cold medication in children can be very confusing as they each come with their own dosing instruction and some have multiple ingredients making it difficult for parents to decipher what might be best for their child.

Safe Alternatives
As a pediatrician and mom of two young children, I know that colds and cough can be annoying and make it difficult for little ones to eat, sleep and play. To help relieve stuffy noses, I recommend running a cool mist humidifier or vaporizer in the room during sleep. To remove visible mucus, place a drop of nasal saline in each nostril and gently suction out the mucus with a bulb syringe. If you can manage it or have an extra set of hands to help, hold your baby in a slightly upright position as gravity can help the mucus drain and hold one nostril closed while you suction the other.

It is best not to suction more than a few times a day because it can irritate the inside of your babyís nose and worsen the congestion. Alternatively, after placing the saline in the nose, give your baby some tummy time. As your baby moves his or her head up and down (and even if he or she cries) the mucus will be more likely to drain out on its own. Nasal saline drops can be bought or made (use ľ tsp salt in 8 ounces of water), or you can even use a few drops of breast milk.

Fluids are important to prevent dehydration. Itís okay if a little one with a cold doesnít want to eat as much as usual as long as he is drinking and staying hydrated.

Remember that prevention is best so teach your children to wash their hands, especially after playing, when entering the house, before eating and after using the bathroom. Carry hand sanitizer or wipes in your bag for times when soap and water arenít available. Keep newborns and infants away from anyone who is obviously sick and teach older siblings to touch and kiss babyís feet instead of their hands and face.

Consult Your Pediatrician
Calling your pediatrician is always a good idea if you have a question, especially when it comes to giving medication. Proper dosing of medication is extremely important. Remember to always:
  • Read package labels very carefully.
  • Always use the dropper or medicine cup that comes with the specific medication you are giving.
  • Keep a written log of the time and amount of medication given.
  • Do not give more than one medication at a time without consulting your physician.
  • Keep all medications safely out of your childís reach.
  • Make sure all caretakers are aware of both the dose of the medication and when it needs to be given.

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Topic: Health & Safety
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