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Winter has finally arrived, and close on its heels will be colds and the flu. As small a comfort as it may be, research indicates that the more germs a child is exposed to and the earlier, the stronger the immune system will be. Going in the opposite direction, we have suppressed so many natural conditions that we seem to have caused ourselves more problems. Soap is as good an anti-bacterial agent as we need. Children need to be outside in all kinds of weather. If a child doesn’t feel well, she needs to stay home, rest, and drink lots of liquids. TLC is the best healer. More words come from Texas Children’s Hospital:

Medicine – Acetaminophen if you want when the fever is over 101° F taken orally. If your child is under 4 months old, you should have specific instructions from your doctor. Don’t give aspirin without specific instruction from your doctor. Cough medicine usually only interrupts the natural cleaning of mucus from airways.

Vaporizer – High humidity can help loosen secretions. Turning on the shower with hot water in the bathtub can help. A cold vaporizer can help (It has to be disinfected daily.) One of the best suggestions I ever heard is to take your irritable baby for a walk. Holding your baby in our arms in the quiet night air is a miraculous cure. It’s really good for both of you, no matter how cold it might be.

Decongestants – These don’t help your child get well any faster, but they can enable a child to sleep better. Decongestants should never be used more than 5 days. Saline drops or spray (1/4 t. salt in 1/2 c. water) can be as effective as over-the-counter medications.

There are times, however, when you need to talk with your child’s doctor. If your child is over 4 months, call your doctor if you have these symptoms:

• Violent coughing with no signs of a cold. He may have inhaled an object.

• Wheezing or trouble catching her breath.

• Blood in mucus, feces, or urine.

• Blue or gray color to lips or fingernails.

• Temperature higher than 103° F taken orally, or fever that lasts longer than 3 days.

• Swelling under the jaw near the ear or a stiff neck.

• No improvement after 5 days. Coughing longer than 10 days.

There are thousands of different viruses to cause a cold. It apparently takes 27 months for children to become immune to group care. Fortunately, our little ones will be stronger for it because they’re starting so young.