Being a parent of a young child is stressful enough, but it seems to go up another level during cold and flu season.
That's why we asked Dr. Amita De Souza, a pediatrician in New York City, to answer the most common questions she gets during the winter when it comes to treating young children who are sick. Read, learn — and never be afraid to call your own pediatrician for help!
Why is my baby always getting sick?
"The short answer is that they're building up their immune system. This isn't a bad thing but it can certainly be frustrating as a parent. The good thing is it's going to build up their immune system. But in the interim, it's going to stress you out and lead to a lot of sleepless nights! It's very common for babies to have colds, especially in the winter. It will be OK. You're not by yourself. Your pediatrician is here to help get you through this."
How can I help my child get through this cold?
"The biggest thing you can do is help drain out their nose so they're able to breath and eat easily. The easiest way to do that is to use saline drops or a nasal spray that you can get over-the-counter at the pharmacy. But a few drops up their nostrils and use a bulb suction syringe to get those boogers out once they're loosened up. Your child is going to get angry and annoyed — but know they're going to feel so much better afterwards!
Another option is to give them a steam shower. Put them in the bathroom with toys on the floor as a hot shower runs.
The boogers are going to keep coming back so hang in there and keep doing these things to help them out."
What do I do if my child has a fever?
"If your baby has a fever or seems really uncomfortable, it's completely appropriate to give them a small over-the-counter dose of Tylenol, Motrin or a fever reducer. It is not recommended that children use Aspirin as it's been associated with a really severe condition called Reye syndrome.
I don't recommend cough or cold medications for children under 6 years of age. They can be harmful and dangerous in the long run. If you're concerned about how your child is doing, call your pediatrician so they can check the child out."
How much medicine should I give my baby?
"It says on the box to call your pediatrician for dosage information, but you can actually just go online to the American Academy of Pediatrics and find dosing information based on your child's weight."
When is it too late to call my pediatrician?
"I never mind getting woken up by a parent when I know they're going to be up all night stressed out and I can easily answer that question for them. I think most pediatricians would feel the same way."