When your child catches a cold it can be miserable for the whole family. Not only will they probably need a few days off school, but sleeping with a cold will be difficult too thanks to their stuffy nose, coughing and fever. This leaves them feeling overtired and fractious – and you won’t exactly feel on top of the world either!
As well as enabling the family to function like human beings, a good night’s sleep is important when treating a cold, giving the body time to fight germs and get your child on the road to recovery – otherwise that common cold could end up lasting for weeks.
With this in mind, we’ve listed the best things you can do to help your little patient sleep soundly through the night when they’ve got a serious case of the sniffles.
Sneeze-free dreams are made of this
1. Give them a lift
Use extra pillows to raise their head and shoulders as this will help the congestion drain down. For infants DO NOT use pillows. Instead, raise one end of the cot with something solid, like wooden wedges, making sure the cot is stable.
2. Make them a nightcap
If they’re old enough, make them a warm drink before bedtime, such as honey and lemon to soothe a sore throat.
3. Breathe easy
To help clear their congestion, rub a medicated vapour ointment, such as Vicks Vaporub, on their chest and put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on their pillow or a handkerchief. A saltwater nasal spray or nasal drops can clear noses for children under two.
4. Keep cool
It might feel counterintuitive if they’re suffering from a cold, but body temperatures spike at night, so make sure their room is cool and well ventilated. Layer their bed with a sheet and a duvet or blanket so they can snuggle up to start with and then sleep with just the sheet later if they get too hot.
5. Avoid night fever
Prevent a high fever and ease aches and pains with an anti-pyretic medicine (eg paracetamol, ibuprofen…). Speak to your pharmacist about suitable products for your child and always read the label.
More cold-busting tips
Of course there are at least 12 more hours in the day when you can help your little one beat their sneezes and sniffles. Here’s what you can do…
Let them rest
There’s no denying many children try to blag a duvet day when they feel perfectly fine (tip: watch out for radiator marks on your child’s suddenly hot forehead!). But if they really are showing signs of a cold – sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes – it’s a good idea to let them rest to nip it in the bud before it takes hold.
If you’re still not sure, see our article When is your child sick enough to miss school?
A cold can come on quickly, so be sure to keep your medicine cabinet stocked with cough medicine and decongestants so you’re not stuck if you can’t get to an open pharmacy. Always read the label and check the use-by dates before administering.
Stop the spread of the cold virus by throwing away dirty tissues. Also wipe down kitchen surfaces and door handles with an anti-bacterial cleaner, such as Flash Anti-Bac Plus.
Keep them hydrated
The body loses a lot of fluids during a cold so it’s important to keep them hydrated during the day. Good choices for children are water, juice, diluted squash, lollies and soups.
Prevention is better than cure
Keep your little one’s immune system in good working order by feeding them foods rich in nutrients and vitamins – vitamin C in particular helps boost cold-fighting power. See our article Five foods to keep colds at bay for inspiration.
To supplement this, children aged four and over can take a multivitamin to keep them healthy and strong all year round. Swisse, for example, offer a range of junior and teenage multivitamins.
What are your fail-safe tips for helping your child sleep through a cold? Let us know in the comments section below.