The dreaded flu season…
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?
When your toddler isn’t communicating effectively yet, it can be difficult to diagnose exactly what is wrong with him. Having said that, 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
Congratulations! Your “baby” is now old enough to take some medicine. If you’d like to minimize your toddler’s 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 also 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.
When you treat the flu in toddlers, 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.
If your toddler will let you do it, The Baby Nose Frida is, hands down the best mucus removal system. Unfortunately, most toddlers hate it. You might have better luck with saline sprays and mists.
My snot removal hack is to make a game of it. For the most part, toddlers love to copy everything you do. Try pretending to spray the saline up your own nose. Laugh, make silly faces, and ask him if he’d like to try. Eventually, when he lets you spray a little in his nose, you can try acting like it tastes good.
As utterly disgusting as this sounds, toddlers love 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. Once again, copycat has worked wonderfully in the past for me. 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 you’re looking for a good probiotic, check out Upspring’s Probiotic + Colostrum powder. I love this product for two main reasons: 1. It contains COLOSTRUM, that concentrated milk your breasts first produce to boost your baby’s immune system. And 2. The Probiotic + Colostrum is a tasteless, dissoluble powder.
Out of sight, out of mind!
Sometimes it’s easier to treat the flu in toddlers with outright trickery.
Dehydration is a serious concern when your toddler has the flu. The trouble is, many toddlers are nonverbal and downright defiant when liquids are involved. If you’re finding that your toddler will not drink liquids (such as water, milk, or even juice), you might need to use creative methods.
My daughter is awful about drinking anything on a good day. Here are a few of our hacks to get her to drink more:
- Pedialyte-infused Popsicle
- Sucking a wet washcloth
- Letting her drink clean bath water (I’m probably a bad mom for even recommending this one…)
- Baby food packets – This is not a substitute for milk or water but they are high in water content
- Adding milk or water to favorite foods
SHORT ON TIME? PIN IT FOR LATER
Treating Sore Throats
It’s hard to diagnose a sore throught in nonverbal toddlers. However, if you notice a loss in appetite, extra crankiness, or a raspy voice, it might be time to try a few toddler sore throat treatments.
Like cough syrup, most drug manufacturers won’t recommend throat lozenges until your child is at least 4 years older.
My favorite sore throat treatments are:
- Soup and broths (anything liquid-y and warm)
- Fruity warm tea with honey
- Warm water or milk with honey (if over a year)
- Ice cream
- Cold yogurt
When to See a Doctor for the Flu in Toddlers
If you truly believe that your toddler has the flu, it doesn’t hurt to visit the doctor. If caught early enough, he may recommend a version of Tamiflu.
Having said that, when you treat the flu in toddlers, watch out for symptoms that need immediate medical attention:
- Unusually high fever (over 104 degrees)
- Blue-ish lips
- Continuous wet cough
- Rapid breathing
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days.
If you notice these symptoms, visit your doctor, urgent care clinic, or ER immediately. Even if it results in nothing, at least you will have the peace of mind knowing that your toddler is safe.
A Final Word…
Honestly, it can be downright scary learning how to treat the flu in toddlers. Not only are they unable to adequately communicate their pains, but they will often fight you every step of the way.
During this time, your toddler will probably turn downright snotty as well. He’ll throw his food on the floor, refuse most of your nursing efforts, and throw temper tantrums without a logical cause. This is totally normal. Don’t worry if it feels like all of the manners you have worked so hard to teach him are thrown out the door. Once the illness has broken, it’ll be a quick fix.
For now, focus on keeping him hydrated and fed (even if it means he eats his favorite meals for the next few days 😉
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!