Comforting a Child Who Has a Respiratory Illness
- Ask your doctor if your child can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve fever (if present). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
- Prevent dehydration. Encourage your child to drink extra fluids or suck on flavored ice pops, such as Popsicles. Let your baby breastfeed more often or give your baby extra bottles. Liquids may help thin the mucus and also reduce fever (if present). But don't force your child to take fluids, which may cause your child to vomit.
- Let your child rest. Unless you see signs of dehydration, do not awaken your child during naps or at night to take fluids.
- Keep your child away from smoke and fumes. This includes cigarette smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves, and fumes from gas, oil, or kerosene heaters. These irritate the breathing tubes and slow healing.
- Place extra pillows under the upper half of an older child's body, or raise the head of the bed by putting wood blocks under the bed frame.
- Use saline nose drops and an aspirating bulb to clear your child's nose. You may need to suction your child's nose if he or she is unable to breathe well enough to eat or sleep.
- If your child is having trouble breathing or if symptoms are getting worse, contact a doctor.
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics