There has been concern expressed about the safety and usefulness of treating coughs and colds in children.
Most cough and cold treatments are no longer regarded as being suitable for children under the age of six; but that is little comfort when your child is unwell and you want to ease their symptoms so they and the family can recover.
Ensure that your child is well hydrated, keep giving them whatever fluids they normally drink, and make sure that water and other cool fluids are easily available if they are not breastfed. Regular milk and diluted fruit juices are suitable, or you could offer oral rehydration fluids. Continue to offer breast milk, and supplementary water such as if your child is still breastfed.
Treating fever and temperature with paracetamol is commonly advised. Ensure that the dose you use is correct for the age and weight of your child, that they are not given a dose any more than four times in any 24 hour period, and no closer than every four hours. It is helpful to store an accurate medicine measure with the paracetamol, so that you can measure out a correct dose to treat your child when they and you are tired and distressed, especially in the middle of the night.
If you are concerned about what to do if you or your children get a cold or of any symptoms that they may have, your community pharmacist can advise you of what is suitable, how to lessen any symptoms and the correct doses of any treatments that are appropriate for you and your family.
Keeping warm, especially over winter, is a priority for infants as they have not yet developed their ability to regulate their body temperature.
To keep warm and prevent hypothermia wear layers of clothing. The clothing does not need to be thick or bulky, but should ideally be made of natural fabrics, such as cotton or wool, or made of thermal fabric. They should be light and fit well - close to the body is best.
Bedding for babies should include a cotton or woollen layer under the bottom sheet and one or two light layers over the top sheet, tucked in well. Do not use wheat bags in bed with infants, but you may use a hot water bottle to warm the bedding and remove it before you place the baby in their bed.
Put infants to bed in clean and dry sleepwear that fits snugly, with no ribbons or ties. Closures should be press-studs, zippers or Velcro. Use a singlet underneath the sleepwear and a hat, socks and gloves if their head, feet and hands appear cold.
The temperature of bedrooms should be above 18 degrees Celsius, but not above 25 degrees Celsius, in order to prevent overheating and chilling. Aim for a daytime temperature of at least 16 degrees Celsius throughout all rooms that are used during the day. In order to achieve this you may need to consider your heating and insulation needs.
Information about insulation subsidies that your local District Health Board provide is available from community pharmacies. If you have chronic medical conditions, or hold a community services card, you may be eligible for subsidised help in achieving a warm house, safe for you and your family.