Doctor Offers Advice On Treating A Child’s Cold Or Cough Without Medications

LIVINGSTON — As a result of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision that over-the-counter cough and cold medications should not be used in infants and children, The Department of Pediatrics at Saint Barnabas Medical Center urges parents to seek safer ways to soothe infants and young children suffering from coughs and colds.

“Studies have shown cough and cold products are ineffective in treating symptoms of children under six years old, and may pose serious risks,” explains Timothy S. Yeh, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.


While there is no “cure” for infections caused by a virus, there are things parents can do to help children feel better until the virus runs its course. The Department of Pediatrics at Saint Barnabas recommends the following options:

To relieve stuffy nose

  • Thin the mucus using saline nose drops. Ask your pediatrician which ones to use. Never use nonprescription nose drops that contain any medicine.
  • Clear your baby’s nose with a suction bulb. Squeeze the bulb first, then gently put the rubber tip into one nostril and slowly release the bulb. This suction draws out the clogged mucus. This works best for babies younger than six months.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s room. This helps to moisten the air and clear your child’s nasal passages. Be sure to clean the humidifier often.

To relieve fever

  • Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask your pediatrician for the right dosage for your child’s age and size. Don’t give aspirin to your child because it has been associated with Reye syndrome.

To prevent dehydration

  • Make sure your child drinks a lot of fluids. He may want clear liquids rather than milk or formula.

If your child’s virus doesn’t go away, or seems to get worse, call your pediatrician. Most infections can be treated at home. However, if an infection becomes severe, your child may need to see the pediatrician and, rarely, go to the hospital.


Though there is no way to keep your child away from germs, there are some steps you can take to help prevent them from spreading, including

  • Make sure everyone washes his or her hands regularly.
  • Keep your child away from anyone who has a cold, fever, or runny nose.
  • Avoid sharing eating utensils, drinking cups, toothbrushes, washcloths, or towels with anyone who has a cold, fever, or runny nose.
  • Wash dishes and utensils in hot, soapy water.
  • Don’t smoke around your child.

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