Cough & Cold

There is little medication that is recommended for children under the age of 5 due to the safety of use.  So what options do we have to help our little one with their cough and cold? I reviewed some products based on my own research and clinical knowledge as a pharmacist.  Keep in mind that these products may help keep baby comfortable and not meant to necessarily "treat" their cough and cold.  Watch your baby for worsening symptoms and consult with your pediatrician if symptoms do not resolve within a few days and/or if a high fever is present and persists. 

*Important note: Always double check with your own pediatrician for the best options for your child as everyone is different and he/she may have health conditions that may or may not be appropriate  based on age and medical history.    


Zarbee's Soothing Chest Rub

This rub contains eucalyptus and lavender in a beeswax and shea butter balm.  The combination of the eucalyptus and lavender is supposed to help calm and soothe baby. Recommended for ages 2 months and older, you can apply to the chest, back, and bottom of the feet. It's free of artificial fragrances, petroleum, and dyes. It has a semisoft texture that melts with ease when applying on the body.  It has a light  fragrance that isn't overwhelming and I find it quite pleasant. 

This is a safer alternative to chest rubs that contain menthol especially in children less than 2 years old.  Menthol containing products are no longer recommended in children <2 years because it could cause respiratory distress.  The menthol vapor can trigger an increase in mucus secretion which can lead to obstruction of small airways and increased nasal resistance.  The cooling vapor tricks their bodies into thinking they're breathing easier but may actually put them at risk due to the increase mucus secretion.  (FYI: Vicks did come out with another version 'Vicks BabyRub' that now contains eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender which is recommended for ages 3+ months.)   


Zarbee's Cough Syrup and Mucus

This cough syrup features agave syrup and English Ivy Extract.  The agave syrup functions like honey that coats the throat to help suppress coughs and the English Ivy is used to help clear mucus when coughing.  It has a syrupy consistency and has a sweet taste.  Baby likes it and doesn't fight to drink it.  When given before bedtime, I find that he was able to sleep through the night without waking up due to his congestion.

I find this to be a good option for babies under 12 months especially since honey products are not recommended due to the risk of listeria.  Majority of cough medications available for children older than 1 year but still under 5 years old contain honey blends or combinations with vitamin C and zinc. 


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Nasal Saline

Using a nasal saline is safe and effective as it contains no medication.  It's recommended to spray 2-3 drops into each nose while baby is laying down with his/her head tilted back slightly if possible.   Don't use a forceful spray as we would if using for an adult.  The saline will help keep the nasal passages lubricated and clear some of the mucus.  I will also sometimes use this first and then use a nasal aspirator immediately right after to loosen up the mucus and clear out the nasal passages.  Just a caution - not all babies will like having something sprayed up their little noses but who would right? They may seem to choke on it from post-nasal drip but it is okay if they do end up swallowing it. This can be used throughout the day but I just personally use it when I can hear my little one struggle to breath thru his nose and is a total mouth breather as he fights me every time I go near his nose.

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Using a humidifier in baby's room will help keep the air cool and moist to prevent stuffiness from dried nasal passages especially in the winter months.  It is important to use distilled water if possible as other types of water can form a film of white dust from the minerals in the water to be expelled back into the air.  Be sure to clean out the humidifier regularly and replace the water as mold and bacteria can grow relatively fast and  can be reintroduced into the air.    

I had gotten the Crane Ultra Cool Mist Humidifier - Elephant and although super quiet, I didn't find that it was super effective in filling up the room.  I think it may be the design of the Elephant snout that prevents the vapor from expelling fully into the air .  When put on full force, the vapor did expel higher into the air with more reach.  When on low to medium, I felt that that vapor just dribbled over the snout/spout and onto the floor, not into the air.  With that said, I did place the humidifier closer to baby's crib with a higher setting to ensure baby was benefiting from the humidifier.  I found it easy to fill and to clean the base itself. However, the water reservoir was more of a challenge as the little crevices held residual water and the small opening prevented it from fully air drying even days later as it had a small air to surface ratio.