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Children under 6 years of age average 6-8 colds per year (up to one/month, September thru April), with symptoms lasting an AVERAGE of 14 days. Symptoms are usually worst during the first 10 days.

Most colds are most contagious during the first 2 to 4 days.


Nasal congestion is most prominent symptom. Also clear, yellow, or green-colored nasal d/c; fever is common in the first 3 days. Also possible; sore throat, cough, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and decreased appetite.


  • Tylenol or Advil (ibuprofen ok only if over 6 months old) for a child uncomfortable with fever.
  • There are NO over-the-counter cold medicines recommended for children younger than 6 years of age, they have not been proven effective and may have side effects.
  • Encourage fluids to help thin secretions and soothe the respiratory mucosa.
  • Warm fluids appropriate for the age of the infant or child. Chicken soup, tea, warm apple juice or lemonade, etc.
  • Nasal saline drops for infants, spray for older children. Following saline, children too young to blow their nose may benefit from suction using a bulb syringe or other nasal mucus suction device.
  • A cool mist humidifier/vaporizer may add moisture to the air to loosen nasal secretions.
  • If possible, gently elevate your child’s head while sleeping, by placing a folded towel or blanket UNDERNEATH the crib mattress, (remember, nothing IN the crib until after 12 months of age).


  • Coughs clear secretions from the respiratory tract. Suppressing a cough may result in retention of secretions and potentially harmful airway obstruction.
  • Increase all fluids.
  • Warm fluids may be especially helpful.
  • Honey in children older than one year. Honey, ½-1 teaspoon can be given straight or diluted in liquid (e.g. tea, juice, water). Honey has a modest beneficial effect on nighttime coughs. (See Zarbee’s products)[i]
  • Lozenges/cough drops for children older than six years only.