Care for a child with a cold by following these guidelines:

Try to keep the room temperature at or lower than 21 degrees C (70 degrees F).

  • Keep the child’s head and chest elevated so mucus will drain away from the ears. This position also prevents the child’s stomach from pressing against the chest, which enables the child to breathe more easily.
  • Raise the mattress or cot under the head and chest for sleeping. Do not use pillows because they tend to flex the head on the chest, making breathing more difficult. Put something under the mattress instead.
  • Offer lots of clear liquids.
  • Assist the child by helping to blow and wipe the child’s nose. Remember to wash your hands afterward.
  • Remove mucus from babies’ noses before they eat. Use a soft, rubber bulb with a soft, narrow tip to suck out (aspirate) mucus for children who cannot blow their noses. Ask parents to send an individual aspirator, and use it only for that baby. (An ear syringe works very well for this purpose.)
  • Let the child rest whenever he or she seems tired.
  • Let the child eat as much or as little as he or she seems to want.

Special Advice for Group Care Settings

  • Don’t give cold medicine without parental consent AND a physician’s recommendation. In general, cold and cough medicines do not help the symptoms or shorten the course of the illness. In some cases, they may increase the risk of complications of the cold by making secretions thicker.