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  • Writer's pictureMarine Lienard

A guide to dealing with the common cold in little ones

The common cold is a frequent visitor to households in the UK, especially during the colder months. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, a cold can be quite uncomfortable, especially for little ones. In this article, we will discuss how parents can effectively deal with the common cold when it strikes their children in the UK.



Understanding the Common Cold

The common cold is a viral infection primarily caused by rhinoviruses. It's highly contagious and can be easily transmitted from person to person through droplets from coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces. Little ones are particularly susceptible to colds because their immune systems are still developing.


Symptoms of the Common Cold

Common symptoms of the common cold in children include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing

  • Sore throat

  • Low-grade fever (less common)

  • Mild fatigue and irritability

Dealing with a Common Cold in little ones

  • Maintain good hygiene: The best way to prevent the spread of the common cold is to practice good hygiene. Teach your child to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating and after using the restroom. Encourage them to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their elbow when they cough or sneeze.

  • Rest and sleep: Ensure your child gets plenty of rest and sleep. A well-rested body can better fight off infections. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine to help them sleep better.

  • Stay hydrated: Offer your child plenty of fluids, such as water, clear soups, and diluted fruit juices. Staying hydrated helps relieve congestion and keep their throat moist.

  • Use a humidifier: In the UK, especially during the colder months, the air can become dry. Using a humidifier in your child's room can help keep the air moist, making it easier for them to breathe and sleep.

  • Over-the-counter medications: Over-the-counter cold medications are not recommended for children under the age of 6 in the UK due to potential side effects. Always consult your healthcare provider before giving any medication to your child.

  • Saline nasal drops: Saline nasal drops or sprays can help relieve nasal congestion in children. These are available over-the-counter and can be used as directed.

  • Offer comfort: Provide comfort to your child by offering their favorite foods, warm drinks, and their beloved blankets or toys. A little extra care and attention can go a long way in helping them feel better.

  • Keep them home: If your child is sick, keep them home from school or nursery to prevent the spread of the virus to others. Ensure they have ample time to recover.

  • Consult a doctor: If your child's symptoms worsen or persist for more than a week, or if they have difficulty breathing, high fever, or severe ear pain, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional. These symptoms may indicate a more severe respiratory infection or an ear infection.

Preventing future colds

Preventing the common cold can be challenging, but some steps can help reduce the risk:

  • Encourage proper handwashing.

  • Teach your child to avoid close contact with sick individuals.

  • Ensure they get the flu vaccine as recommended.

  • Dress them warmly during cold weather to avoid chills.

Dealing with a common cold in little ones involves a combination of care, comfort, and patience. Remember that the common cold is a viral infection, and it will typically run its course. While you can't always prevent colds, you can provide the necessary support to help your child recover as quickly as possible and keep them comfortable throughout the process. If in doubt, always consult a healthcare professional for guidance on managing your child's illness.


Marine, mother and founder of St Pancras Recruitment


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