How to Treat the Flu in Toddlers Without Losing Your Mind

The flu season.

The truth is, no matter how you avoid it, your baby will probably get sick in the next couple months. So, WHEN your baby gets sick, you need to treat the symptoms to avoid further complications.

If you’re a mother of a toddler, then you know that dealing with the flu isn’t as easy as it sounds. A baby will take any treatment you give them, but a toddler? A toddler will fight you, complain, whine, cry, and scream every single day he’s sick.

If you have no idea how to treat the flu in toddlers then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover some of the most effective flu remedies for your tiny tyrant, so he can be back on his feet in no time.

How to Treat the Flu in Toddlers Without Losing Your Mind

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Does Your Toddler Have the Flu? Top Flu Symptoms in Toddlers:

When your toddler isn’t communicating effectively yet, it can be difficult to diagnose exactly what is wrong with him. However, there are a few dead giveaways that you’re not just dealing with a nasty cold.


Top Flu Symptoms in Toddlers:

  • Sudden and consistent high fever that will not go away
  • Throwing up/ diarrhea
  • Sudden cough
  • Fatigue (Your toddler will want to do nothing but sleep!)
  • Discomfort (Your toddler will do just about anything but sleep…)
  • Chills and Muscle Aches


Related Article: 10 Infant Flu Home Remedies


5 Quick and Easy Ways to Treat the Flu in Toddlers


Pharmaceuticals: What Can I Give My Toddler for the Flu

Treating the flu in toddlers is a tricky thiThe good news is, your baby is old enough to take some medicine. If you’d like to minimize your toddler’s worst fever and discomfort, you can administer an appropriate dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Just be aware that aspirin is still off the table.

You toddler is probably too young to take cough syrup. The FDA says that children 2 and older can take cough syrup, however, most drug manufacturers specify waiting until at least 4-6 years.

If you were counting on using pharmaceuticals, don’t worry. We’ll go over several toddler flu remedies that are completely natural and very effective.

Snot Removal

When you treat the flu in toddlers, focus on treating the most severe symptoms that can progress to complications.

One of the most important symptoms to treat quickly and effectively is your toddler’s runny nose. A runny nose can create a nasty cycle of insomnia and exhaustion, followed quickly by congestion and upper respiratory illness.

The Baby Nose Frida is, hands down the best mucus removal system for babies. You suck the snot out of your baby’s nose, ignore the crying, and five minutes later your baby will forget the whole thing.

Unfortunately, the Baby Nose Frida doesn’t work as well for toddlers. Your toddler will cry, kick, scream, and she won’t forget  the incident in five minutes. It’s an absolute nightmare.

At this age, saline sprays and mists are the most effective tools for snot removal. Your toddler may enjoy the cocktail of salt water and snot dripping out of his nose.

Your goal is to flush out her nose as much as possible. You can use a homemade saline solution and a baby dropper, or you can purchase a saline mist.

My absolute favorite saline mist is the Little Remedies Sterile Saline Mist. The pressure is forceful yet gentle enough that it removes the mucus quickly and effectively.

Every time my daughter is sick, I whip out this saline mist and flush her nose before every nap and as needed throughout the day. This mist will go quickly though; I’d invest in a 3 pack!

(Note: As your toddler gets older, you may be able to teach him to blow his nose. I’ve found that this approach works best as a copycat game. Playfully blow your nose and then put a fresh kleenex up to your toddler and encourage him to do the same.)



Studies have shown that supplementing probiotics can be an extremely effective way to treat the flu in toddlers. It can give your toddler the extra boost he needs to combat the virus and even relieve some of his symptoms, like diarrhea and acid reflux.

So how do you give your toddler probiotics?

Your baby may or may not be nursing at this age. If he’s still nursing, consider waiting to wean until the worst of the cold season is over. Not only does your breast milk contain incredible antibodies, but it also contains prebiotics, another key ingredient to excellent immune health.

If your baby has been weaned, focus on serving food with probiotics and other immunity-boosting ingredients, such as yogurt (my daughter LOVES the Organic Yo Baby yogurt by Stonyfield), kale, garlic, spinach, kiwi, and poultry.

If your toddler is older than 3, you can also serve probiotic supplements. Culturelle’s probiotic chewable tablets are some of the highest-rated probiotic supplements available and have a really sweet, yummy taste.


My sick toddler enjoying some stonyfield baby yogurt
My sick toddler enjoying some Stonyfield Baby Yogurt


Once again, when you treat the flu in toddlers, you need to focus on treating the most critical symptoms. Toddlers are not known for their compliance when they are sick. He’ll be cranky, tired, and most likely won’t have an appetite. If your toddler is still grasping the concept of a sippy cup, he may reject anything that isn’t your breast (which can make things really complicated if you just weaned).

You may need to introduce extra liquids with more creative methods. Try feeding him broths (this is where chicken noodle soup is amazing!), fruity pedialyte-infused popsicles, and soup (here’s a great list of immunity-boosting soups ).



5 Quick and Easy Ways to Treat the Flu in Toddlers

Treating Sore Throats

Like cough syrup, most drug manufacturers won’t recommend throat lozenges until your child is at least 4 years older. Serving chicken noodle soup and tea can treat your toddler’s sore throat and ensure that he’s receiving enough liquid.

If your baby is over a year, you can add some lemon juice or honey to your toddler’s warm milk or tea.


When to See a Doctor for the Flu in Toddlers

When you notice the symptoms of the flu, it’s a good idea to visit your pediatrician. If caught early enough, he may recommend a version of Tamiflu.

Otherwise, while you’re treating the flu in toddlers, be aware of the more critical symptoms that need immediate medical attention,  like an unusually high fever (over 104 degrees), blue-ish lips, wet cough, rapid breathing, dehydration, and diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days.


When my daughter’s sick, I’m a nervous wreck. Every cough makes me think about the latest flu-related fatality on the news. If this sounds like you, just take a deep breath. You’re doing a great job. Focus on treating your toddlers symptoms and offer plenty of extra snuggles. Soon your toddler will be at full health and driving you crazy all over again 😉


If you’d like to check out more flu home remedies, check out my post What to Do When Your Baby Has the Flu: 10 Infant Flu Home Remedies. This post was written specifically for infants, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find some remedies that can help your toddler as well.


Good luck, Mama! Let us know what flu remedies worked best for you in the comments below!

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