Snotty noses, hacking coughs, and congested chests seem to be a nearly consistent state of babyhood. As soon as the snot stops dripping out of your child’s nose for a day, it’s back for a new round the next. There’s just no escaping the baby cold. The minute my baby’s nose starts running I pull out the snot-sucker, whip out the saline drops, and steam up the bathroom, all while my husband questions why I’m not just easing his misery with cold medicine.
Cold medicine makes my husband feel better, but that doesn’t mean it will make my baby feel better. In fact, cold medicines, cough syrups, and decongestants shouldn’t be used in children under 2 (or even under 4). The FDA made this update in protocol in 2008 as the effectiveness of these treatments is unknown and they could cause serious side effects like allergic reactions, change in heart rate, shallow breathing, convulsions, or hallucinations. Now medication bottles and packages are labeled with this warning, but not all parents turn over the package and scrutinize the label. They just know it says it’s cough syrup for kids and their kid is sick. A 2013 poll by C.S. Mott’s Hospital revealed that 40% of parents with children ages 0-3 give their kids cough and cold medicine. 25% of parents give their children decongestants.
A cold is no fun for any child (or their parent) but next time the nose-faucet starts it’s perpetual drip, focus on easing your child’s discomfort instead of loading them up with potential dangerous over-the-counter syrups or pills.