Surviving Sick Season

Having sick kids is not fun.
On top of that we live in a time where we have been told that children under two cannot have most over the counter (OTC) sick meds.  This puts families of babies and young children in a very difficult situation when they find that their little one is sick.
The good thing is that the longer you live in that world of having a sick kid and no meds, the more you figure out tricks to get them better or at least feeling a little better.

I'm not a doctor.  I'm a mom.  Because I have no medical background I have linked anything medical in this post to a reputable medical source.

I've been through many of the typical childhood illnesses with my kids.  Here are all of the tricks and things that I've learned along the way.


I am not including age recommendations for any products because they could change AND because you can determine the right thing for your family by reading labels or asking a doctor.

Preventative Measures:
Here is what we do at our house to keep some of the germs at bay.


Teach Proper Sneezing Etiquette: Schools teach it, you can too! Teach kids to sneeze and cough into the inside of their elbow.  Sneezing on hands spreads germs quickly.


Shoes: Leaving your shoes at the door can help by not tracking things throughout your house from the outside world... like germs.


Hand Washing: We all wash our hands with antibacterial soap every time we come home from anywhere.  It is the first thing we all do when we come inside from a store or school or friend's house.

Click here for a fun activity for kids to learn about the need for warm water and soap to properly remove germs.  While doing this activity, make sure kids don't stick their hands in their eyes with this concoction on their hands.

Hand Wipes: I keep Wet Ones hand wipes in the car so that as soon as we get in the car from a store or other public place, we can all wipe our hands off.  It makes it so that we're not waiting until we get home and officially wash our hands.  I like using wipes more than hand sanitizer because I give my kids (old enough to not put things in their mouth) each a wipe and they spend a few minutes of our ride home wiping their hands with it.  There is a lot more friction that comes from wiping their hands with a wipe versus putting hand sanitizer on their hands.

Probiotics: My family members all take probiotics daily (year round).  Probiotics have been found to boost your immune system by replacing/boosting the levels of good bacteria in a person's digestive tract.  We use Culturelle for kids because it comes in a tasteless powder form for kids and we mix it into their water.  They have no idea that they take probiotics.  Make sure you consult with your doc before doing this.

Elderberry Syrup: We've never used this but our friends make this and give it to everyone in their household daily to prevent everyone from getting sick.  Note: Babies can NOT have honey!  Check out this link for all the info and recipe.
Make sure you consult with your doc before doing this.

Helpful info:

Common Misconception: The flu and stomach bugs are NOT the same thing (and have very little in common).
The "flu" is influenza, a contagious respiratory illness that commonly causes coughing and fever.
Stomach bugs are often Norovirus, a contagious illness that causes stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and throw up.

Know your drugs: Over the counter drugs all have names (and I don't mean the brand names).  Drug names are found on front of the medicine box in small print below the brand name and also found on the back of the box in the section called "drug facts."  Know the drug name and its purpose.  On the back of the box it will tell you the drug name and then the job of that drug.

Some medicines have a lot of drugs in them with a lot of purposes.
Some medicines have one drug and one purpose.

Good tips from the pharmacist: Ask your pharmacist questions about meds.  They give great tips!  They have often told me things that the docs never mentioned.  Ask about drug interactions or what to take first and how far apart to take different medications if your child is going to be taking multiple meds of any kind.  Some meds block others from being absorbed for example.

Dealing with Colds and Fevers:

image from web
Raw Garlic: When I feel like I'm coming down with a cold, I consume raw garlic.  Raw garlic has allkinds of medicinal powers and can kill a cold if you consume it raw at the onset.  It has worked for me numerous times by taking just one clove worth (sliced up).  I personally can't stand raw garlic so I slice up one clove and put it in bread with lots of cream cheese.  The cream cheese cuts the taste of the garlic and makes it possible for me to consume it raw.  Make sure you consult with your doc before doing this - garlic can have negative effects on your body too.

Elderberry Syrup: We've never used this but our friends make this and give it to everyone in their household daily to prevent everyone from getting sick and to help sicknesses go away faster.  Note: Babies can NOT have honey!  Check out this link for all the info and recipe.
Make sure you consult with your doctor before doing this.

Skin to Skin: Skin to Skin contact has been shown to regulate body temperature in babies.

Ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol):  If your child is old enough to have both medications, ask your doctor about using these meds as a team to combat a fever.  Here's a link about it.

Lollipops (can be a choking hazard):  There are some great lollipos for kids that are old enough to have them made just for sick kids!  The can act as a cough drop on a stick and often include some helpful ingredients.  Look for them in the same section as the cold meds. Ask a doctor before giving your child these.

Saline Nasal Spray: Saline nose spray is another item we use for our kids when they have colds.  Make sure you consult with your doc before doing this.

Nasal Aspirator: Most people know about the bulb style of nasal aspirators used to remove boogers from baby noses.  There is also one bizarre version called the NoseFrida that many people I know think is an amazing invention and it has great reviews on Amazon as well.  Ask a doctor before using these.

Humidifiers: We use humidifiers in the winter and when we have colds.  Be aware that they can be hot!  Another great thing to do is to take your baby or child into the bathroom and sit with them on the toilet seat while another family member is taking a shower.  Bathrooms fill up with warm steam that you can have them breath.
Be careful, humidifiers are  electric and are a heat source.  Children should stay away from them for safety sake (this can be hard since they are on the floor).

Buckwheat Honey: Do NOT give honey to babies!
Like garlic, buckwheat honey has some medicinal qualities.  Check out the info about honey here.

Vicks on Feet for Coughs:  I don't know why this works, but it does seem to!  At bedtime, for children that are old enough for Vicks VapoRub (see link for warning), put Vicks on the soles of a child's feet if they have a cough.  Then cover their feet with socks.  You may notice that you don't hear them coughing very much at night.  Make sure you consult with your doc before doing this.

Boiron: Boiron is a company that makes homeopathic medicines that we are big fans of.
There are three medicines they make that are also available in child version.  We love all three both for the effectiveness and for the lack of bad taste!
Click these links below to find out more about each.
Children's Chestal Cough Honey
Children's Coldcalm Pellets (btw check the age range on the adult Cold Calm too)

Getting kids to drink more fluids: It can be like pulling teeth to get kids to drink more fluids when they
are sick. Here is what we do.  We have designated cups that have favorite characters on them just to be used when they are sick... so they get the "fun" cups to drink from.  ALSO, I recently started offering them a baby marshmallow for every empty cup.  If they finish their fluids, they get a baby marshmallow!  Ask a doctor before giving your child marshmallows.

Dealing with Stomach Bugs:

Be ready: At the suggestion of our friends, we keep a large empty clean yogurt cup in the car (with the lid).  It is just the right size "puke cup" for an unexpected sick moment in the car.  You can also keep multiples stacked just in case you are going to need more than one.

Things to drink: Pedialite (which also comes in powder form to be mixed with
water - good to have on hand), broth, pear juice from canned pears, ginger ale, Caffeine-Free Coke, Gatorade...   Ask a doctor before giving these to your child.

B.R.A.T. Feel Better Drink: A drink that has been created just for kids that have an upset stomach based on the typically recommended tummy helping foods (or "BRAT" diet): bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.  Check it out here! Ask a doctor before giving this to your child.

note: All images in this post (aside from the title image) are from the internet.