no one likes to get sick, and catching a cold can make life miserable, especially if you are a child. it can be two weeks of upset for everyone as well as the little patient. the best way to deal with a cold is to prevent it!

The amount of time it takes to go from a scratchy throat that hints something is coming, to a runny nose and fever is about 5 – 9 days. At the first signs of infection, it is a good idea to help your child get an extra boost to their immune system to fight the infection. Providing the right diet, herbs and vitamins can reduce the severity of the symptoms and duration; still allowing the body to learn about the virus and how to fight back.

These invaders come in many forms, Rhinoviruses (rhin means “nose”), one form of the common cold, may also include a sore throat, ear and sinus infections. Other forms of the common cold include Coronavirus, Syncytia, and Parainfluenza. Any of these viruses can be spread easily because they cling to any surface. Research has shown that cold viruses do not spread easily through the air, unlike the ‘flu virus, and someone would have to sneeze right in your face to pass on their cold (which can happen when small children get together, or your little one is on your lap).  However, a lot of common surfaces and everyday objects may carry cold viruses, thus anything touched can be contaminated. Unfortunately children tend to touch everything, then put their hands on their faces, in their mouths or on other people. Cleaning their hands regularly can prevent and control the spread of these illnesses. If possible, have separate towels and extra vitamins for the each member of the family.

Protection includes cleanliness as part of the regime, and regular hand washing can certainly go a long way to stop the spread of cold bugs. Be sure, however, to use only regular cleansing soaps, since the FDA is now advises against the use of antibacterial soap. Bundling up is good to do for the sake of comfort, although it will not prevent catching a cold. Even though the name suggests the viruses are temperature related, they do not actually come from being cold.  Including herbs, supplements, homeopathics and healthy foods are important steps that must be taken for the strongest possible immune system. Children can be given syrups and drops at a very young age. Echinacea, goldenseal, elderberry, garlic, zinc and vitamins C and D can all be delivered in liquids, chewables or syrups. There are also homeopathic quick dissolving tablets and drops for young children which are easy for parents to administer.

diet is also very important for prevention, as well as easing symptoms.

Be sure to avoid dairy, which can cause the production of more mucus. Also avoid processed foods, which contain empty calories and more sugar than is good for the child’s immune system. They also contain too much salt, as well as artificial preservatives and coloring. Warming soups with lots of healthy vegetables and fluids are good for anyone of any age. Chicken soup has healthy fats that soothe the gut and provide good probiotics, especially when garlic and onions are added. Make sure to add fruits to their diet. Apples add good fiber as well as vitamins C, A, and flavonoids. Papaya is another good source of vitamin C, providing about 250 % of the daily recommended amount. Cranberries are a good probiotic and can enhance and introduce good bacteria to the gut. Bananas are good sources of B6 and potassium. In addition, oranges, tangerines and clementines are fun to eat and another source of vitamin C. Sweetening warm drinks with honey for children over 1 year can help a sore throat and reduce a tickly cough, as the honey acts as a natural antibiotic.

Don’t forget to use a cool mist humidifier in the child’s room, to help mitigate the effects of dry air on delicate sinus membranes. Essential oils diffusers can help when used as prevention against viruses, to cleanse and purify the air around children. Frankincense, cedarwood, lavender, lemon, sweet orange  and thyme all help in the battle against viruses, and make the air smell good during the winter months when the cold must be shut out along with the fresh air. The essential oils have the added bonus of helping clear congestion and elevating moods during the shorter daylight hours. It is important to remember that many essential oils are not recommended for children under 6 years of age, so be sure to check if it’s safe for their use.

advice for protecting your child from colds and coughs:

One of the best methods of preventing colds and coughs is to start your family regimen of winter readiness with good supplements and immune boosting herbs. Metro Integrative has a wide range of multivitamins and minerals, herbs and supplements for all ages, from babies to adults. Homeopathics are easy to take, even for the super-picky and pill-phobic, and are effective. They are available for babies and children, as well as adults.

Staying hydrated and well-rested is an easy recommendation.  Children, however, can sometimes be adverse to the drinks which adults know are best for them, preferring instead sugary fruit drinks.  Sugar, however, must be avoided since it can run down the immune system at a time when you need it to be in tip top condition. So find a good alternative. This would preferably be something that children can enjoy warm, and be sweetened with a small amount of honey. Fresh squeezed fruit or vegetable juices are highly concentrated forms of vitamins in their most natural form. Be sure to dilute according to age, as follows:

4-8 years old:
1/4 cup plus equal amounts of water

9-12 years old:
1/2 cup plus equal amount of water

12 years and older
can safely enjoy an undiluted cup a day; if they have built up digesting the juice in a diluted state.

(It is important to remember not to give more since it can result in loose stool.)

Metro Integrative has a selection of diffusers and humidifiers that can certainly make a difference to the air quality, as well as a selection of essential oils.  Please check with us as to which are safe to use for children.

Come in and talk with our practitioners and nutritionistsabout how to achieve the optimum health for your family through this winter and beyond.

Sally Warren, PhD
Board Certified Traditional Naturopathic Doctor, Metro Integrative Pharmacy


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.