How can I treat the common cold?

With over-the-counter cough and cold remedies not recommended for children under 4 years old, parents often wonder what they can use to make their children more comfortable during an episode of cold symptoms.

Cold symptoms typically consist of low-grade fever, nasal congestion or runny nose, and a slight cough.

You should always remember that you have acetaminophen and ibuprofen at your disposal to manage fever or discomfort. In addition, nasal saline is available in drops and spray that can be used with or without a gentle nasal suction in the tiniest babies.

In places that are cool and dry, particularly in the winter months, a cool-mist humidifier can also be helpful for relieving nasal congestion.

Never underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep, chicken soup, and some loving arms.

Cold symptoms can last 7 to 14 days, but if they seem out of the ordinary or your child is experiencing them in a more severe way than you are comfortable with, it's always a reasonable idea to have your pediatrician do a thorough physical exam to make sure there is no need for an antibiotic.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, April 2019


  1. The nasal saline spray works great! I follow the spray by using the suction bulb to get out as much mucus as I can. Anything is worth a shot!

  2. We love our humidifier when my son’s nose is stuffy! I will use essential oils like tea tree oil or eucalyptus in that and/or in his bath and it works wonders for helping with his congestion. I am guilty of not minding when my son is sick because it is the one time he will sit still and get me some extra cuddles (shh, don’t tell!).

    1. I have been using a cool mist humidifier on my daughter for a couple of weeks now but I am not sure it is helping that much. I love the idea of using oils in the bath tub and will try this. I use Vapor Rub on her chest and I think that helps a little bit as well.


Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.