Though the jury might still be out on the existence of the tooth fairy, one thing research has conclusively shown is that there’s no magical remedy for the common cold.1a

The common cold is usually caused by a group of viruses, with rhinovirus being the most frequent culprit.1b There are more than 100 kinds of rhinoviruses, which makes finding a one-size-fits-all cure challenging.1c Plus, these viruses change quickly, so it’s tough for medicines to keep up.1d

So, what’s a parent to do when colds catch hold of your little one?

Focus on easing their symptoms and ensuring they have a comfortable, calm space to rest and get better!

Ways to relieve a blocked nose and congestion

Try using salt water (saline) nose drops to ease your baby’s nasal congestion. Put two drops of saline in each of your baby’s nostrils to help loosen the congestion. Then, use a suction bulb to gently remove the saline and mucus. Remember to squeeze the bulb before putting it in your baby’s nostril to avoid pushing the congestion further in.2a Doing this before your baby eats can make feeding more comfortable.2b

Humidifiers and vaporisers

Adding a humidifier to your baby’s room can work wonders for relieving congestion.3a 

Humidifiers turn water into mist and release it into the air, making it more moist. When your baby breathes in this humid air, it can help soothe and reduce dryness in their noses.3b 

Don’t forget to regularly clean your humidifier or vaporiser as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tips for soothing your child’s cough

Coughing is the body’s way of keeping the lungs clear, especially during a respiratory illness such as a cold.4a If you notice your child’s cough sounds like something is rattling in their chest, it’s just the sound of mucus vibrating.4b The cough might sound wetter or deeper as mucus comes up, but that’s normal as long as your child is improving.4c Remember that a cough might linger even after the cold seems to have passed. It can take up to three weeks for a cough to completely go away as the airways heal.4d The good news is the cough should gradually become less frequent and milder.4e However, if has any concerning symptoms associated with coughing, it’s best to check in with your paediatrician.4f

If your child is over a year old and coughing, you can make them more comfortable in a few simple ways. Try propping them up with pillows while they sleep; a little elevation helps them breathe easier.5a 

A spoonful of honey in warm water or decaf tea before bedtime can also soothe their throat (just for kids over 1 year old).5b For those over two years of age, a gentle vapour rub on their chest can help ease the cough.5c And remember to keep them sipping on fluids – staying well-hydrated helps thin out the mucus, making it easier for their body to clear it out.5d

Tips for reducing fever

It’s natural for parents to worry when their child has a fever, but remember, a fever often means the body is doing its job fighting off germs.6a

To help your child feel better, keep them hydrated6b and make sure they get plenty of rest.6c Consider giving them an over-the-counter fever medication based on your health care provider’s recommendations, but steer clear of aspirin due to its link to Reye syndrome.6d Don’t use cold baths for fever reduction.6e Instead, dress them in light clothes and use a thin blanket for comfort.6f It’s okay if they’re not hungry, but make sure they rest a lot.6g

For symptoms like vomiting or diarrhoea, consult your doctor about possibly using an oral rehydration solution.6h

Seek medical attention if your baby is under three months old and has a fever of 38° C or higher6i or if an older child’s fever is accompanied by severe symptoms like rash, persistent vomiting, signs of dehydration, fever lasting more than five days, or if they have a pre-existing health condition.6j

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  1. Harvard. A Future Cure for the Common Cold? Available from: Last accessed February 2024.
  2. My baby has a stuffy nose. How can I help them sleep safely? Available from: Last accessed February 2024.
  3. Parents. Should You Have a Humidifier in Your Baby’s Room? Available from: Last accessed February 2024.
  4. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Calming Your Child’s Cough. Available from: Last accessed February 2024.
  5. Today. Is your little one sick? 15 home cough remedies for kids. Available from: Last accessed February 2024. 
  6. NEMOURS KidsHealth. What to Do About a Fever (High Temperature). Available from: Last accessed February 2024.
  7. How to stay healthy with a weak immune system. MedicalNewsToday [Online]. 10 April 2019. Available from: Accessed2020/01/28.




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