The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against the use of over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications for children under the age of 6. There are two main reasons for this recommendation.
First and foremost, studies have not shown any benefit to the use of OTC cough and cold medications in children under the age of 6. They simply do not effectively treat cold symptoms.
Second, and most importantly, OTC cough and cold medications put children at risk for accidental overdose. This is because they often contain multiple active ingredients. Active ingredients are medications that are intended to treat symptoms. For example, many cough and cold remedies contain a fever reducer, a cough medication, and a decongestant. Families have mistakenly given their child both a cold medication and a fever reducer not realizing that they were doubling the intended dose of fever medication.
So families may wonder what does work for cold symptoms. Remember, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are appropriate for treating fever and pain. In addition, nasal saline and a cool mist humidifier can help relieve congestion. And never underestimate the relief provided with adequate rest and hydration. Cold symptoms should last about a week. If your child's symptoms are more than mild, cause you worry, or seem out of the ordinary, it’s a good idea to be seen by your pediatrician.