Naturally Alleviating Toddler Cold Symptoms

Tips, insights, and real-life experience from a mom who’s dealt with her fair share of colds.
electric nose frida

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It doesn’t matter how you slice it, sick kiddos are tough. And the younger your child is, the harder it is.

The first time my daughter came down with a cold, I thought I was going to lose it. She was extremely cranky. She only wanted to sleep in my arms. Trying to suck the snot out of her nose was like a wrestling match. And to make matters worse, both my husband and I got sick.

It’s important to remember every kid is unique. What works for us may not work for you. And what works right now might not work two days, two months or two years from now. Kids are infuriatingly unpredictable like that.

PLEASE NOTE: The following tips and insights have been gleaned from nurse friends, doctor visits, and personal experience. Please contact your child’s medical provider before administering any treatment or protocol.

How Long Do Toddler Colds Last?

Just like with an adult, there’s no magic cure for the toddler cold. It takes seven to ten for a tiny human’s body to fight off a virus. And like with adults, the goals are the same:

  • Alleviate symptoms
  • Support the immune system to prevent prolonged illness
  • Reduce the chance of recurrence

7 Natural Ways to Treat a Toddler Cold

The following tools and tactics are what we’ve developed as our standard protocol for treating a toddler cold. Wherever we discover something new that works for us (like most recently Boogie Wipes from a good friend!) we adjust our approach. There’s no one-size-fits-all, especially when you’re dealing with a kiddo.  

1. Electric Nose Frida

This. Thing. Is. GOLD!!! You probably have the small blob sucker bulb nose sucker you swapped from the hospital. And you most likely have the traditional Fridababy NoseFrida.

Now don’t get me wrong. Both these things work. The hospital bulb, in particular, is FABULOUS for a newborn. And the NoseFrida definitely works when your kid lets you use it.

Babies and toddlers can be incredibly strong and strong-willed. And while the NoseFrida is amazing in so many respects — the thing can be damn difficult to use. It does take two hands. And even if your partner helps by trying forcefully holding your kid’s head still — without hurting them — the chance that they’re successful isn’t high, in my experience.

The Electric NoseFrida is quick, effective, and easy to use. It’s also easy to clean, can be operated with just one hand. And it may very well become something your kid wants to do themselves!

holding a sick kiddo

2. Vicks Warm Moisture Humidifier

Nurses and friends alike told us if you have a humidifier, go ahead and use it. In our experience, if you don’t have a humidifier and your kid is sick, run to the store and get one. (We did this on vacation when our kid came down with a cold and ours was a few hundred miles away at home.)

A lot of the recommendations out there will recommend a cool-mist humidifier for kids. The reason is quite simple — safety. There’s the potential for a warm-mist humidifier to burn someone who touches the heating element or holds their hand over the steam.

That being said, we knew how much showers help our little girl and we’ve taken precautions to make sure she doesn’t have access to it. Before we put her to bed, we place a large plastic bin in the middle of her room and the humidifier on top. Because she still sleeps in a crib, she’s confined and doesn’t have access to it.

I’m not sure what we’ll do when she transitions to a real bed. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 

3. Boogie Wipes

Raise your hand if your nose has ever become raw and chapped from blowing and wiping it while sick. I think we can all agree this takes the uncomfortableness of being sick to an entirely different level. 

And for a kid who doesn’t have the same level of logic and communication as an adult, this is particularly worse. Boogies Wipes are a saline nose wipe that helps dissolve mucus and gently wipe it away. 

We learned about these from a friend and immediately bought a big package. They’re fabulous. 

4. Lots of Water

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. This is not a new tactic. Keep water bottles within reach. Encourage and offer it to your little one frequently. The more hydrated they are, the better they will feel.

5. Fruit with a High Water Content

Because it doesn’t have the right amount of water and salt, plus it tends to be VERY high in sugar, most doctors recommend against hydrating with fruit juice. 

That being said, I don’t know anyone who recommends against fruit. When your kid is sick, take full advantage of fruits that are naturally high in water to give them plenty of vitamins and some extra H2O. Some of our favorites include:

  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantelope
  • Peaches

6. Rice Cooked in Bone Broth

I don’t know about you, but getting a baby or toddler to drink soup has proved impossible — and messy. As an alternative, I’ve cooked rice in a hearty bone broth. While it’s not a perfect solution, this does help get plenty of those healthy nutrients bone broth is so well-loved for, including:

  • Iron
  • Vitamins A and K
  • Fatty Acids
  • Zinc

Sometimes she will simply eat the rice. But you may find you need to mix things up. You could:

  • Stir in some green peas and carrots
  • Add cheese
  • Add tomatoes
  • Add more cheese and form it into small balls your kid can hold

showering with a baby

I Shower My Baby, Here’s How

Want to shower with your baby? The following tools and tips helped make the process easier and more enjoyable for both my newborn and me.

7. Steamy Showers

Like with a humidifier, steam thins mucus and helps it drain from the nose. One of the tricky parts of a steamy shower for babies and toddlers is not exposing them to hot water. 

The workaround we use is turning up the water as hot as it will go for 5 to 7 minutes before we get in. This allows a good amount of steam to build up in the shower room. Then we turn down the water temp to something our daughter can handle and hop in. 

How to Use a Nasal Aspirator

electric nose frida

FridaBabies. Bulb suckers. Electric Nose Fridas. All of these are forms of a nasala aspirator. At its simplest, a nasal aspirator is a device that suctions mucus from the nose.

There is a large variety of them, a fact that I came to learn while researching the Electric Nose Frida. Because when you’re about to spend $40+ on a snot anything, you want to know what the options are. 

In the world of electric nasal aspirators, there are ones that plug into the wall and cordless ones, like the Electric Nose Frida. Some reviews say the ones that plug into the wall have more suction. The convenience of a cordless option won out for me. And, the Electric Nose Frida has thus far proved to have more than enough suction for us.

Using an electric nasal aspirator is pretty simple. Turn the thing on. Stick it in your kid’s nose. Suck out the boogers. 

You may need to kind of move it around to reach all the little nicks and crannies. If the mucus is dry and stubborn, a quick squirt of saline can help loosen it up. You might also want to give this a try after a steamy shower.

When to Take a Toddler to the Doctor for a Cold

Nearly all doctor’s offices have a 24/7 nurse hotline. The nurses that man those phones are nothing short of angels. From a mom who literally called at 3 AM sobbing because she’d given her 3-day-old a fever (I’d wrapped her in 5 blankets!!!), I can personally attest to the fact that these folks deliver practical insight and advice.

Call them. If you are ever worried about your kid, call. Tell them the symptoms. If there’s a way you can help your kid at home, they’ll know. If you need to take your toddler to the doctor, they’ll help you determine that too. If they think you need to call the doctor directly, they’ll help you set up a call.

Can My Toddler Go to Daycare with a Common Toddler Cold?

Each daycare facility and preschool will have their own policy on colds. Our preschool allows kids to come with a runny nose, but requires you to keep them home if they have a cough or fever.

Some daycare facilities allow toddlers to come with a cough, but draw the line at fever and vomiting. And there are some facilities that don’t allow any symptoms. Before you send your kid to any daycare or preschool, I strongly recommend reading the entire contract. 

Not only does this ensure you know what you’re agreeing to, I think it gives you a better idea of the kind of people with whom you’re entrusting your child. 

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Sick kiddos are tough. Discover 7 natural ways to alleviate toddler cold symptoms to make the days (and nights) easier.

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