34 answers

What Do I Do for My 3 Year Old's Stuffy Nose???

Hi. Anyone else out there try to buy cold medicine this season for your toddler and finding that evertyhing has been taken off the market for cold medicine for kids under 6? I remember this happening this past year but forgot about it and my little girl has been battling a stuffy nose and cough that has been keeping her up at night so I thought I'd run out to the drugstore for some help and realized there are no medicines for this age group anymore.
Does anyone still use this cold medicine and adjust the dosage? I heard that is why they took it of because people were careless with it and weren't adjusting properly.
But the purpose of my request is really to find out what else to do for my daughter's stuffy nose. I have been treating with albuterol and pulmicort on her nebulizer machine because that usually opens her up. But it hasn't been helping. We run a humidifier in her bedroom at night and I take her into the bathroom after running the hot shower for a while but nothing seems to help. I called the pediatrician and they just said Delsym is the medicine I can use but that is only a cough medicine. I just sent hubby out for some saline spray and a new boogie sucker. Anyone else battling with these same symptoms right now? It wouldnt be so bad but she cant sleep with the stuffy nose so nighttime gets bad.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I have used medicines that say "ask doctor" for ages 4 and under. I give my daughter at the most a half dose. My daughter has allergies and we use the generic zyrtec and that works well. When she was real young the doctor also suggested saline spray. I know I use that myself and it helps.

I usually take my 3 year old in the warm/hot shower with me before bedtime. I make her blow her nose in the shower once her nose starts to run. We clear it out real good. I bath her in the J&J soap that smells like Vicks. Then, I rub her chest with the children's/infant version of Vicks rub. Lastly, I bought a vicks brand warm air vaporizer and I add the vicks liquid in it. The odors in the air, warm air, and vicks rub on her chest really help her sleep and breathe easily.

Hope this helps.

I use the saline spray a lot - daily in fact, just to keep her passages clear since she has allergies. Also, an antihistamine, like benedryl or zyrtec might help too.

More Answers

Not only were people screwing up the dosage (who would GUESS about the amt. to give???!!!), but studies have shown that the deconfgestants, etc. are not effective on kids anyway. I know it's tough but definitely try some of these things:
1. Prop the head of her head/crib up with phone books or put a pillow under the mattress to encourage drainage
2. Keep running the humidifier
3. Vicks on the chest and on the soles of her feet with socks
4. Saline spray/drops
5. Chicken soup/broth whatever she'll take (Recently I heard it's actually the onions that have a decongestant effect so any other onion-y things too!)
6. Water, juice, freezer pops, slushies, LOTS of liquids will thin out the mucous.
7. Avoid a lot of milk & dairy, as I noticed this seems to thicken mucous
8. Tylenol if her throat is scratchy or if she has a fever
9. Plug in vapor things for night--get it going about an hour before she goes to bed
10. Warm bath before bed to help loosen up the nose!

Hang in there. Cuddle & indulge her. When my son is sick he can eat/drink/sleep whatever and whenever he wants! Isn't it sad to see them like that? Hope she's better soon!

1 mom found this helpful

They sell liquid stuff you can put in the humidifier, its like the vapor rub stuff. There are also vapor things you can plug into outlets & you can use vapor rub right on your kid. I've coated my son with the vapor rub & put stuff in his humidifier, it worked. Also we elevated one end of his crib (he's only 15 months old). You could try to elevate one end of her mattress.

I use the saline spray a lot - daily in fact, just to keep her passages clear since she has allergies. Also, an antihistamine, like benedryl or zyrtec might help too.

Vicks vapor rub and a humidifier/vaporizer at night. Lots of extra fluids. Try some saline nasal spray like Little Noses and then have her blow.

I wouldn't think that the albuterol or pulmicort would help with nasal congestion. I could be wrong but I thought it was more for the swelling, inflamation and congestion in the lungs and airways leading to the lungs. I don't think it really gets into the sinuses to help much.

A family recipe that helps if she will drink it for you (most kids will) is an onion broth. Take the outer skin off of an onion, put it in a pot and fill it with water. Bring it to a boil and cook until the onion is soft all the way through (5-10 minutes). Let it cool and serve in a sippy cup with a little sugar to sweeten it.

If she won't drink that, try some old fashioned home made chicken soup. You can do chicken noodle or a recipe I found submitted by a family doctor to a parenting magazine. It is a chicken vegetable soup. In a big pot, cube up 1 large sweet potato, 3 medium carrots, 2 medium turnips, 2 medium parsnips, 1 large onion. Add 2-3 dark meat chicken quarters (bone and skin still on). Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft. Remove the chicken from the pot. Debone it and add chicken back in (as much as desired). Salt and pepper to taste.

The extra fluid and the onion helps to break up the congestion some.

Make sure she is sleeping at an angle so that her head is partially upright. This will help with drainage as well.

Anyhow, I hope this helps. I hope it is a short lasting cold.

Buy a product called Sudacare Advance. You plug this into the outlet and it put a vapor into the air that will open up the nasal passages. I worked for my daughter.

Have you tried propping her mattress up on one side? Slide a large phone book under the head end. also, warm broths seem to help my kids a little. If you do happen to have some children's cold medicine that hasn't expired weigh your daughter on a reliable scale, call the ped, ask for a proper dosage, and make sure you have an accurate measuring device.

I usually take my 3 year old in the warm/hot shower with me before bedtime. I make her blow her nose in the shower once her nose starts to run. We clear it out real good. I bath her in the J&J soap that smells like Vicks. Then, I rub her chest with the children's/infant version of Vicks rub. Lastly, I bought a vicks brand warm air vaporizer and I add the vicks liquid in it. The odors in the air, warm air, and vicks rub on her chest really help her sleep and breathe easily.

Hope this helps.

I just went throug this with my 2year old. I used the Saline mist and the pedicare vapor plugs it worked great.

We use the vicks for kids on our 2 and 1/2 year old and it works pretty well. We put some on her chest when she goes to bed, and, it may sound crazy, but we've also found putting it on the soles of her feet and covering with socks helps. Good luck, and i hope your little girl feels better soon!

Hi! Yes, my son is 2 and i was fighting with this same issue a few months ago. Yes, unfortunately there are people who aren't careful when i comes to meds. and their kids... When the recall happened, i remember it being for children under 12!! Even my step daughter in florida said same thing... Anyway, the only thing i did differently from you is baby vicks vapor rub on the chest, neck, and back, mostly before eating, and sleeping. It really helps. And i bought a baby vicks vapor bath. (I wash the hair with reg. shampoo cause u put it right in the water.) Hope this helps!!!

Motrin or Tylonol seem to help reduce some of the swelling the nose and airway which make more space for the air to pass the congestion. That along with the other things you are doing work for us.

You are doing all of the right things. Maybe some of that Vicks Baby rub. There is a Pediacare for coughs that is considered safe, I think...I use it on my 4 year old, maybe it's for 4 and up...but check. I found it at Target, it was the only thing besides Delsym that was available (and Delsym did NOTHING for my girl). Some people swear that a spoonful of honey (in kids this age, not younger) coats the throat and helps curb any coughing so they can get some relief-I haven't had that work wtih my daughter, but we have chronic upper respiratory issues in the colder months. Do the saline spray often...A LOT. And make sure you pound on her back a little after a breathing treatment...that helps break up the congestion more. The thing is, the breathing treatments do break stuff up, but it ends up making the coughing worse at first...we would always do breathing treatments an hour or two before bedtime...so that she had time to hack it all out, then we'd put the Vicks on her chest to help ease the coughing so that she could get some rest.

My daughter used to take Children's Claritin...is that off the shelves now, too? I am so MAD that they took all the drugs off the market! Just because some people can't follow directions...jeez...seriously...all over the internet are charts for meds and how much of a dose to give by weight-why can't people just follow the directions??? It makes life harder for those of us who just want to give our kids some relief and actually know how to give meds correctly!

Sorry for my rant. LOL I hope your little girl gets better soon!

My triplets turned 4 and we've used Mucinex COLD For Kids - Mixed Berry Flavor for ages 2-6. I'm afraid they'll pull this off the counter as well so when I find it I buy it in bulk, lol. They advertise that it lessons the mucus in the nose which will lesson the muces in the chest, which is true. Many parents will buy cough medicines when it's actually mucus draining in the back of the throat making them cough. You want them to cough that out so you don't want to suppress that, only suppress the dry coughs for them to sleep. But you'll find most coughs in little ones are mucus related.
http://www.mucinex.com/ Don't forget a humidifier!

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

Chat and events, within 2 hour radius

Hi A.,

Your daughter sounds just like mine. She's on the same treatments. Have you had your daughter tested for allergies??? I did and found out what she's allergic to. We have started her on allergy shots and it's starting to make a difference.

As for now, have you tried Zyrtec or Allegra?? These are both great medicines. Zyrtec is over the counter. My daughter is currently using the Allegra with Zyrtec as a back up. There are some good prescription strength nasal sprays too. My daughter has used them.

I'd definitely check into an Allergist. Last year was a horrible year for my daughter. Her Pediatrician was trying everything and trying to avoid sending her to an allergist. I followed his lead. Now, I wish I hadn't and followed my instincts instead. My daughter ended up in respiratory distress and landed in the hospital because of it. This is when we took her to an allergist.

Good luck. Feel free to contact me at any time if you have further questions or concerns. I hope your daughter doesn't get as bad as my daughter did. Keep me posted on her condition.

Hello A.,

I think that Triaminic has a vapor patch. It's for use for older children and you put it on their nightshirt/pjs, not on their skin. HOWEVER, for a younger child you can stick it on their pillow (under the pillow cover) or on the mattress (under the sheet). This allows the vapors to work, but doesn't allow your daughter to get a hold of the medicine patch. It's like using vicks without the mess.
I guess you could use it during the day also if she were dressed in layers, and you could stick it to her clothing where she couldn't reach it.

I've used this product with boh my kids and it has helped them. Good luck, hope this helps.


Hi A.,
My son is 4 years old. I find that saline mist or drops help a lot, along with a cool mist humidifier. I also use Claritin to dry him out although it an allergy medicine. Claritin and Zyrtec are still on the market for kids.

Apparently, the cold medicines were removed from the market because their affects were never tested for children below the age of 6 and many children were being seen in medical facilities for side effects.

Dear A.,

I have never used any cold medicine for my children (3 & 6). I also assume your child has breathing issues to begin with as you mentioned a nebulizer, am i right? If it is asthma, i can't really speak to that and recommend you talk with your pediatrician about your DD's breathing issues.

If it is just a stuffy nose here is what I have done for my children (and both just got over the head cold that turned to croup going around Wallingford/ Media area). At night my children get a mentholated rub on their feet with socks on top, they are propped up in bed in an almost sitting up position, I remind them to sleep on their side or belly to reduce coughing, I run a cool mist humdifier in their room as close to their head as possible and set it to the highest level of humidity possible (65%), I administer Tylenol/ Motrin for any aches or fever, with croup I took them into a steamy bathroom but also realized I could have taken them outside into the very cold air to help as well, and I keep their bedroom on the cool side (57 degrees at night)and also use a plug-in mentholated strip. I also push lots & lots of fluids (water, chamomile tea, chicken soup, and juice).

To the best of my knowledge it was not just over-medicating as the problem with the over counter cold medicines. For years, most pediatricians would not recommend them becuase the medicines had never been tested on children, nor proven to help shorten the cold symptoms and after a few deaths what they found was that each child reacted differently to the cold medicine and in some children it slowed their breathing down to such an alarming rate that it was considered too risky or raised a fever that it caused seizures.

To me, that risk was enough to never rely on OTC cold medicines for my children.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do because it is obvious to me that you are such a loving and concerned mother or you never would even be asking these questions.


I like tylenol cough and cold but Delsym is GREAT!!!! as for the humidifer it has to be a cool mist the warm air does not let them breath.
hope this helps.

Talk to your doctor. He/she can advise you what best to do and suggest a medicine and the proper dosage for your child's weight and age, and if necessary write a prescription.

I have a 3 1/2 year old girl and a 1 1/2 year old boy and I have had this problem too. The only thing that I have found is I shop from a wellness store online and they have stuff that you can put in a warm or cold mist humidifier and it clears them right up. Here is my website if you would like to check it out. www.livetotalwellness.com/StacyO

My doc recommended Pediacare Vapor Plugs. And they work wonders. I've also had luck with mucinex for the cough. All three of my kids have been battling these symptoms. It's tough when they can't sleep at night.

HI A.. I am so glad my kids are old enough now that I don't have to worry about this issue. Isn't it just another case of a couple of people sre stupid so we all have to suffer! Anyway, I always turned to Dinatapp allergy for my girl's stuffy noses, and Dineatapp cold for their colds. If she always has a stuffy nose maybe you should have her tonsils and adnoids checked. My oldest used to snore, have a stuffy/runny nose all the time and my doctor finally sent us for xrays. One look at the xrays and we were on our way to the ENT! Yup, they took out her tonsils and adnoids and all her discomfort started to disapeared before she even got into the recovery room!! She never had a sore throat, she never had a single case of tonsil-itus. (forgive my spelling!) Good luck and best wishes.

get vicks baby rub. Not as strong as regular vicks and can be used for toddlers. Put it on her chest and back before she goes to sleep. Also run a humidifier or vaporizer to put moisture in the air.

I use benedryl for the runny nose. Sparingly. And only if I feel like I would want a dose of it to go to sleep if I were him. It always makes the next day a little less booger-y.

Hi, I have a 27 month old little girl and she just got over a stuffy/runny nose and post nasal drip and night which kept her up and I used Benedryl. And it worked! It does say on the label it is for runny noses. The Dr told me it was okay to use this and actually suggested it cause it would dry her up and it did! I would definitely try it. I have used it before this time too and it worked!
Good luck!

My three year old son was suffering from a terrible runny nose/cough - I noticed the same thing. All meds said under four do not use. What I did was get the "Little Colds" decongestant/cough med. and cut the dose for 4-6 year olds in half. So, he got 1/2 a dropper instead of one full dropper. He got the relief he needed.

I use benedryl for my 3 year old when his stuffy nose and cough due to post nasal drip keeps him up at night. I only use it at bedtime and never for more than a few days at a time. I only give him 1/2 tsp which is half the dosage, but it works like a charm and according to our ped, it is very safe. Hope that she feels better.

I have used medicines that say "ask doctor" for ages 4 and under. I give my daughter at the most a half dose. My daughter has allergies and we use the generic zyrtec and that works well. When she was real young the doctor also suggested saline spray. I know I use that myself and it helps.

I just saw a commercial yesterday for Breathe right nose strips for kids. I used them when I was pregnant and they are amazing. You stick them on your nose at night and it pulls the airways open. It's not uncomfortable. Hope this helps.

I have a 3 1/2 yr old and a couple months back had a bad cold and have spoke to the doc about the cool mist humidifier and vapor rub on her chest, saline drops but nothing was helping so he suggested that I try Triaminic Children's strips Night time and to rip one of those in half (b/c she hates drinking cough medicine). The normal strip is for a child of 6yr. I only gave it to her at night and it seemed to help after only two days. You should check with your doctor first to see if they feel that this option might work for your little one.

I have a four year old and have been giving her children's benadryl since she was 1. I only have it around for her peanut allergy, but sometimes when she is stuffed up bad, it really helps to dry her out. Also, my doctor has always told me claritin. If it says to contact a physician for kids under six, I usually cut the dosage in half. I have never had any problems or side affects of giving my daughter medicine.

We are big fans of Vicks vaporub. They have a child version that is not as strong. It really helps to keep them open during the night. You can also put the liquid form in a vaporizor if the child doesn't want it on them. It won't help with the cough but the stuffiness should be less.
Good luck to you.

Hi! I, too, have a 3 year old and often deal with this situation. There are 3 drs at our pediatrician office that have been there since my husband was small. I trust them implicitly and have listened to their advice on this, as well as questioned the pharmacist to be 100% sure. They do recommend the humidifier, but they are devout about saline drops. It loosens everything up, and even helps a cough by allowing everything to drain properly. I will be honest and say that it is a pain to get my 3 year old to allow me to give him the drops, but none the less, it works and I feel safe about it.

Hope this helps!!!

tis the season!

my son has been battling a head cold for several weeks...took him to the ped - lungs are clear and no ear infection. We use Tylenol Plus Cold - for the under 6 crowd instructions say call your doctor...my ped adjusts dosages by weight-my son is 40 lbs and we were instructed to give 1 tsp....call your ped and they can adj the dosage by product by weight

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