Colds and Flu in your toddler – preparing for the winter sniffles

Does it seem like your toddler picks up everything going around? It’s not surprising when they put things in their mouth, cough and sneeze on each other, and touch anything in sight. Just when you think you’ve conquered one cold, they come home from preschool with another. Here are a few tips for those sniffly days, to boost their immune system and help them to heal.


Simple diet changes can help promote healing. Protein with every meal will help build the antibodies they need to heal. Limit refined sugars and processed foods because they create acids that cause a cold to linger. Dairy products can increase and thicken mucous. Children often instinctively lose their appetite when sick. As long as they are getting enough fluids, missing a meal or two will not harm them. Offer them applesauce, broth, chicken or vegetable soup and herbal teas.


Keep your child well hydrated with water, diluted juice, fruit pops, herbal teas, or soup. If they are not interested in drinking then encourage frequent small sips of fluid. In the case of vomiting or diarrhea, you can give an oral electrolyte formula such as Infalyte or Pedialyte, or make your own: 2 cups of water + 2 cups of juice + ½ tsp of salt + 1 tsp baking soda.

Sleep & Rest

Routine is extremely important when a child is sick. Try not to let them miss a much needed nap. If your child has stopped napping, encourage 20 to 30 minutes of quiet time. Keep stimulating evening activity to a minimum to ensure an early bedtime.


Try to bring down a fever by removing warm clothing or sponging your child with warm water or having them soak in a tepid bath. Give them cooled “fever tea” (see below) or even add it to their bath as it can be absorbed in the skin. If using Tylenol (acetaminophen), remember that it is toxic to the liver in high doses. Make sure to read the instructions on the bottle and not to give more than is recommended.


Lavender chest rub for a respiratory infection: 8 drops of lavender essential oil + 2 drops of chamomile essential oil in ¼ cup of olive oil. Rub on chest before bed.

Vapour inhalation for a stuffy nose or sinus pain: Fill your bathroom sink with very hot water and add 2 drops each of eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil and sage oil. Keep it steaming by leaving the hot water tap on. Have your child inhale the steam for 5 minutes. Add more oil as needed.

Fever tea: equal parts lemon balm, chamomile flower, peppermint leaf, licorice root & elderflower. This tea can be sweetened with a bit of honey.

Ginger tea will help a child who is throwing up or has diarrhea, helping to stop nausea, provide fluids and heal the digestive tract.

Sage tea helps to break up congestion and bring down a fever.

Liquorice root tea is an antimicrobial that will sooth a sore throat.

Equal parts peppermint leaf and sambucus tea for aches and pain in a chest infection

How to prepare teas:

Measure out 2 heaping tbsp for every cup. Pour 8 oz of freshly boiled water over the herbs. Cover the container. Steep for 10 minutes, strain, cool and serve. (If there are any thick roots simmer for 15 minutes before steeping)

When should you call your doctor or take your child to emergency?

  • If your child’s temperature exceeds 104°F (40°C)
  • If your child has a seizure or convulsion
  • If your child cries inconsolably or otherwise acts extremely irritable
  • If your child acts lethargic or confused or won’t awaken easily
  • If your child complains of stiff neck or headache or can’t touch his chin to his chest
  • If your child becomes dehydrated (no urination within 8 hours or more, listlessness, dry skin and lips, crying without tears)
  • If your child at any time shows respiratory distress such as rapid breathing, gasping, wheezing, or a pale or bluish skin colour
  • If your child is getting rapidly worse despite your efforts


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