Infants and Cold Medicines Don’t Mix

Your 8-month-old has a bad cold. Should you give her some children’s cold medicine?

No. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends that cough and cold medicines should not be given to children ages 2 and younger. Studies show these medicines can be deadly in little ones. In fact, you may want to be wary of these medicines for any young child. According to several studies, cough and cold medicines often don’t even work in children under age 6 and could have potentially serious side effects.

Although it’s not wise to reach for cough and cold medicines, there are steps you can take to help your little one feel better:

  • Use saline drops to clear baby’s stuffy nose. Place a few drops of saline in each nostril followed by a gentle suction bulb. Ask your pediatrician which nose drops to use.

  • Use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer in your little one’s room to help moisten the air and clear your baby’s nasal passages. Be sure to clean the humidifier or vaporizer often as instructed by the manufacturer.

  • To calm a cough, the AAP recommends giving children ages 2 to 5 a half-teaspoon of honey. Just remember that honey is unsafe for babies under one 1 of age.

  • To relieve a fever, give acetaminophen to your baby ages 6 months or younger. Give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen to your child older than 6 months. Ask your pediatrician for the right dosage.

As always, call your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about your baby.

Online Medical Reviewer: DeRosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/6/2010

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