Queer Mama Medic: Home Remedies for Snotty Kids

Illustration for "The Sailor's Sick Child," a poem by Lydia Sigourney in "Poems for the Sea." Artist unknown.
Illustration for “The Sailor’s Sick Child,” a poem by Lydia Sigourney in “Poems for the Sea.” Artist unknown.


By Ejiria Walker, PQ Monthly


‘Tis the season for runny noses and fevers. Children get 6-10 colds a year on average, according to the National Institutes of Health. We don’t like to see out little ones suffer.  But, as many of us know, the common cold is caused by the rhinovirus. Viruses cannot be cured. They have to run their course. But we can ease their symptoms.

Over the counter remedies can be given, but how do you know which ones are safe?  It can hard to read the labels sometimes and there are so many that it can be quite confusing. Fortunately, there are certain things that can be done that don’t require any pharmaceuticals.

Dry air can help open the airways and dry out the mucus in the sinuses and nasal cavity. This can be as simple as bundling them up and having them step out side for a little bit. Just be sure to keep your child away from smoke of any kind, especially cigarette smoke. Smoke will only slow the healing process and prevent your baby from getting the proper amount of oxygen in their lungs.

Increasing the amount of fluids our little ones drink will help flush their bodies and keep them hydrated. (Soda does not count. Soda actually dehydrates them and adds unnecessary sugar to their diet.) The best fluids to give them are water, diluted juice, and milk. If you have a baby or toddler, stick with breast milk or formula. Be sure not to give babies under 6 months water, they cannot process it correctly and an electrolyte imbalance may occur. For children 6 -12 months, you can give them an oral electrolyte fluid, like Pedialyte. Also popsicles are great. Try making home made popsicles out of diluted juice. Kids love it!

To deal with fevers, cool clothes to their forehead, armpits, and groin will help them remain comfortable. You can also give them acetaminophen. However, check with you pediatrician for the correct dosing. Apply vitamin A&D ointment to their upper lip and nostrils will help with irritation from runny noses. Beleive it or not, warm honey with lemon is a great treatment for coughs and sore throats. Be sure not to give honey to children who are less than a year old because of the risk of infant botulism. Using nasal saline solution drops in babies less than 12 months will relieve congestion and help thin mucus so it is easier to be suctioned out.

You should call the doctor when any of the following appear:

  • coughing up a lot of mucus
  • coughing up blood
  • shortness of breath
  • unusual lethargy/tiredness
  • inability to keep food or liquids down or poor fluid intake
  • increasing headache or facial or throat pain
  • severely painful sore throat that interferes with swallowing
  • fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.3° Celsius) or higher, or a fever of 101° F (38.0° C) or higher that lasts for more than a day
  • chest or stomach pain
  • swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
  • earache

Remember antibiotics do not get rid of a cold, however your doctor may want to start them on some if any of these symptoms appear as it could be something more than a common cold.

A few things you can do to help lower the risk of infections are –

  • Wipe down the door handles, light switches, handles, and anything else that is touched through the day
  • Encourage the family to cover their cough with their arm and not their hand.
  • Take a daily multi vitamin to help strengthen immune systems
  • Wash hands often and use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands. Remember, hand sanitizer may kill the germs, but it doesn’t take the dirt away. So wash your hands as soon as you can.

Note: This post is not intended to provide medical advice and is for general informational purposes. 

2011-11-08 08.19.03-1Ejiria Walker is a queer femme mama and active community member. She is a military veteran and has been a nurse since 1998. Some of her favorite things to do include crafting, hiking, camping, and dancing. Ejiria enjoys expanding her son’s horizons and offering him as much of life as she can. You can reach her at ejiria@pqmonthly.com.