Aside from the above suggestions, consider giving your child a vitamin and mineral supplement during the cold season or when there's an unusual outbreak of sickness in your school or daycare. The weather, indoor living and fighting off extra bugs can tax your child's nutrient supply. Although I don't recommend this on a regular basis, you can also give your child prophylactic doses of echinacea when the flu and cold time is in full swing. Make sure to follow dosage guidelines for children, and give this herb in a 10 days on, five days off rotation. These precautions should also be taken when other members of your immediate family are sick and contagious. If your family is starting to come down with the sniffles, take a close look at the home environment. Determine if your diet, activity and stress are at healthful levels.
When the Sniffles Start
Even when you do everything right, your children can still get sick. When this happens, the most important treatment is plenty of comfortable sleep and rest. While some daycare facilities will accept sick children or you can take your little one to a special facility for sick children, I personally think a sick child needs his parent's loving care during this time. How your child feels greatly impacts her recovery. Snuggled down in her own bed or the living room couch, and cuddling while reading with Mom or Dad are wonderful ways to get better.
Being at home with your child also allows you to monitor how she eats and drinks while sick. Help your child avoid sugar (it diminishes your child's defenses) and have her drink plenty of fluids, preferably water and vegetable broth. If your child will only drink fruit juice, dilute it half and half with water. The natural sugars in fruit juice can reduce your child's immunity.
Medicines for Children
Most of the natural remedies adults use during a cold can be given to a child as well. The most important difference is the dosage. As a general rule, children up to school age should receive 1/4 of the adult dose. Kids from 6 to 12 years old can be given 1/2 of what grownups take. Adolescents up to 17 should receive 3/4 of an adult dosage. These guidelines can be used for herbs, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Parents should avoid giving children under 2 any remedies without the supervision of their doctor or natural health practitioner. If you're still nursing, take the remedy yourself and your baby will benefit from these medicines in your milk. If you're unsure whether an herb or other remedy is safe while nursing, ask your doctor. Some nutrients, like vitamin B6, dry up mother's milk.
Homeopathic remedies are ideal for very young children because the tablets or liquid is sweet, easy for kids to take. I've also noticed that children respond very dramatically to the correct remedy. Unlike adults, children are less likely to question a homeopathic remedy's effectiveness. They just take what Mom or Dad give them.
There are many different homeopathic remedies you can use depending on your child's particular set of symptoms. Allium cepa, or onion, is a classic cold remedy and very easy to remember. Just think of the red teary-eyed, runny nose symptoms caused by cutting up an onion. Typically this discharge is burning and irritates the upper lip. Thirst, dry cough and no or little fever is common. The child will feel worse indoors, in a warm room and during evening hours. I have used Aconite for my son's croupy cough with great success. He woke up suddenly around 2am, scared and crying out. I gave him a dose of Aconite. By morning his cough was gone.