Scared of Cough Medicine

Updated on January 25, 2007
L.F. asks from Indianapolis, IN
12 answers

My 4-month-old baby has a cold/cough and the doctor recommended Infants Robitussin. I recently read two articles claiming dangers in ccold medicine for children under 2. ( and ) Now I am scared to give her the medicine? Has anyone heard anything else about this?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the advice! My cousin, who is a RN, read the articles and explained all those parents had overdosed their babies resulting in death. Just make sure the medicine has been prescribed by the doctor and you take only the right amount

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answers from Indianapolis on

I heard about that from the CDC. And my doc says NO to it. That was before these reports. He said that it just causes them to become wired and doesn't do enough good for them. I would say No way to it.

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answers from Kokomo on

I read that artical also and if I'm not mistaken the artical was talking about parents giving their children adult cold medication. The Dr. would not have given you the meds if he felt it would harm your child. It infant Robitussin, therefor it is specialy made for babies. If you are still worried about it let the dr. know you concerns, I'm sure he or she will answer any questions you might have. Good luck



answers from Indianapolis on

When my daughter was sick (5 mo. old), I gave her Little Colds brand. It helps with stuffy noses, cough, and fever/pain. I only had to give her one dose and she was much better within hours. I had also called the nurse and she recommended using Simply Saline and a cold mist humidifier. The best time to give her the simply saline spray is right before a bottle or nursing. The sucking motion will help break up the mucus, then use the aspirator and pull the mucus out from her nose.



answers from Muncie on

If you are scared to take the doctor's advice, then just don't give it to her. Get a second opinion...she's your baby and you have that right. Don't worry about offending anyone. I have heard some things about Robitussin also, and if it were me I'd take her to another doctor and try to get another medicine.



answers from Indianapolis on

The key word is INFANTS robotusson not childrens or the ones meant for adults. And you give the EXACT dose for your childs weight.....In the excert below from the articles you referenced it says to check with childs doctor first and follow instructions exactly not never give it to a child under 2.I guess your other option is to ask the doctor for a prescription cold/cough meds....they do have them.

"Because of the risks for toxicity, absence of dosing recommendations, and limited published evidence of effectiveness of these medications in children aged < 2 years, parents and other caregivers should not administer cough and cold medications to children in this age group without first consulting a health-care provider and should follow the provider's instructions precisely,"



answers from Louisville on

I love this site-your answers are below....about the middle section. I think everyone here is right about not giving this stuff until they are at least older than 6 mos...but I totally understand your hesitation...I pasted the article below, and here is the site-good luck!!!

-Why does my baby get so many colds?
One reason that babies get a lot of colds is that their immune systems are immature, making them more vulnerable to illness. Also, your child can develop immunity to only one of the more than 200 different viruses that cause the common cold at a time. Think of all the colds you've had in your lifetime. Your baby would have to get all of those — and more — to be immune to all cold viruses.

As your baby grows, he's likely to be exploring a lot and touching (and licking!) everything, so it's easy for him to pick up a cold virus on his hands. Then all he has to do is put his fingers in his mouth or nose or rub his eyes, and the virus will get a chance to set up shop.

Your baby may get sick more often during the fall and winter months because cold air and indoor heating dry out his nasal membranes, making it easier for a cold virus to get a foothold there. He also spends more time during cold weather cooped up indoors, where viruses can spread more easily from one person to another.

Most children average between six and ten colds per year. In families with children in daycare or school, the number of colds can reach 12 per year! (The average adult gets two to four colds annually.)

-How can I tell if he has a cold and not the flu or some other illness, or even allergies?
It can be tricky. If your baby has a cold, he might have a runny nose with clear mucus that may thicken and turn gray or yellow or green over the next week or so. He might have a cough or a low-grade fever.

If your baby is running a fever, watch him when his fever comes down. If he plays and eats normally (or almost normally — he might eat a bit less and drag a little), then it's probably a cold. If he acts ill even when his temperature drops, though, he may have something more serious than a cold. Also, a flu or other illness is more likely to have an abrupt onset, and is more likely to be accompanied by diarrhea or vomiting. On the other hand, if congestion or coughing shows up before any fever, it's more likely that your child has a cold.

Itchy, watery eyes and nose are hallmarks of an allergy, as are repeated sneezing attacks and itchy skin that lasts for weeks or months. Also, the mucus coming out of your baby's nose will continue to run clear, rather than thickening and turning yellow or green as it tends to in children with colds. Allergies won't cause your child to run a fever, and they tend to show up in the spring, summer, and early fall.

-How should I treat my baby's cold?
No medicine will make a virus go away faster, but you can help your baby feel better and prevent the infection from getting worse by making sure he gets plenty of rest and liquids. For babies under 4 months, that means breast milk or formula. At 4 months your baby can also have a little water, and at 6 months he can start drinking juices.

Since most children can't master nose blowing until about age 4, here are a few ways to help ease your baby's congestion:
• Tip your baby's head back and squeeze over-the-counter saline (salt water) drops into his nostrils to loosen up the mucus. Then suction out the liquid and mucus a few minutes later with a rubber bulb syringe. If your baby is having trouble nursing with a stuffy nose, try this tactic about 15 minutes before a feeding. He'll then be able to breathe and suck at the same time. Apply petroleum jelly to the outside of your baby's nostrils to reduce irritation. (Don't use nasal sprays on your baby unless his doctor says it's okay. They may work temporarily but can cause a rebound effect in which the congestion gets worse with continued use.)

• Use a humidifier or a cool-mist vaporizer to moisten the air in your baby's room. Or take your baby into the bathroom with you, turn on the hot water, close the door, and sit in the steamy room for about 15 minutes. A warm bath can accomplish the same thing.

• Elevate the head of your baby's mattress by placing a couple of towels between the head of the mattress and the crib springs. Sleeping at a slight incline may help relieve his postnasal drip, but don't overdo it. If your baby is a restless sleeper, he could end up flipping around so his feet are higher than his head, defeating the purpose of the elevation. (Never use pillows to prop up your baby as they could suffocate him. And don't put anything under the legs of the crib because that could make it unstable.) You might even consider letting your baby snooze in his car seat in a semi-upright position.

----Is it okay to give my baby over-the-counter cold medicine?
It's a good idea to ask the doctor what she suggests for treating your baby's cold. Most doctors don't recommend any over-the-counter cold medicines for babies under 6 months. Once your baby is older than 6 months, the doctor may recommend that you save these medications for when your baby really needs them, such as at nighttime, when his symptoms may be keeping him (and you) from getting any rest. Keep in mind that these medications won't shorten the course of your baby's cold or prevent further complications such as ear infections or sinus infections.

If your baby is feverish, ask your doctor about giving him infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give your baby aspirin as it makes him more susceptible to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease. Also be aware that if you give your baby a fever-reducing medicine, you'll want to avoid other over-the-counter remedies that contain these as one of their ingredients, or you'll be giving him a double dose.

-What natural or alternative treatments can help relieve my child's cold symptoms?
Adding a few drops of menthol, eucalyptus, or pine oil to a vaporizer or bath may help your baby feel less congested, says Kathi Kemper, professor of pediatrics, public health sciences, and family medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and author of The Holistic Pediatrician. (You can get these oils at most health food stores.) If your baby is older than 6 months, a weak, lukewarm solution of chamomile tea can also be soothing.

-A word of warning: Never use the Chinese herb Ma Huang, also known as ephedra or ephedrine, an herbal decongestant. Its potency can vary widely, and the Food and Drug Administration has linked it to bad reactions in adults, including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, seizures, heart attack, and stroke. Always talk to your doctor before giving your baby any kind of medicine, conventional or otherwise.

-When should I call the doctor?
If your child is younger than 3 months, you should the doctor at the first sign of illness, particularly if your baby has a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (taken rectally) or a cough. If your baby is between 3 and 6 months, the doctor may want you to call if his temperature reaches 101 degrees F, and if he's over 6 months, 103 degrees F. (Ask your baby's doctor for her guidelines.) No matter what your baby's age, call if you notice any of the following:
• Your baby takes a turn for the worse instead of starting to improve after five to seven days, or if his cold symptoms last for more than 14 days.

• His cough worsens and he's wheezing or gasping. These symptoms could be a sign of pneumonia or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a relatively common but potentially serious respiratory illness in babies under age 1.

• He cries when sucking during a feeding, or pulls and rubs his ear. This could be a sign of an ear infection.

-Is there anything I can do to cut down on the number of colds my baby gets?
You can't prevent every cold, but there are things you can do to minimize your baby's exposure and boost his defenses. For starters, make sure family members and friends wash their hands before picking up your baby (this is particularly important around newborns, who are even more susceptible to illness than 1- or 2-month-old babies). To the extent you can, keep your baby away from sick children or adults. They'll understand if you ask them to postpone a visit until they're not contagious. Keep in mind that babies in daycare get more colds than those kept at home simply because they're exposed to more kids and, hence, more germs. Make sure your childcare provider is conscientious about washing her hands. And make sure you wash up, too — especially after changing diapers and before preparing food.

Keep your baby well hydrated. Again, for babies under 4 months this means making sure they continue their normal breast- or formula-feeding routine. After that age, you can give your baby a little water as well, and at 6 months you can introduce your baby to juice. If your baby is hydrated, he should be wetting at least five or six diapers a day.

Secondhand smoke can put your baby at higher risk for upper respiratory problems, so stay clear of cigarette smokers and keep your baby away from areas where someone has been smoking. Children who live with cigarette smokers have more colds and their colds last longer than those of children who aren't exposed to smoke.

Finally, breastfeed for as long as you can. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for a year to reap the health benefits of breast milk.) Although it's not a fail-safe guard against infection, studies have shown that breastfed babies get sick less often than their formula-fed peers because the antibodies in breast milk protect against a host of germs.



answers from Indianapolis on

I am sure your doctor would not have recommended it if she/he felt it would put your baby in harms way. Many medicines you will come across as your child gets older will have a warning or note not to give to children under 2. However, under doctor's supervision and recommendation, it will be fine. The dosages are so small for young babies. And, think of it this way, your doctor would be responsible if this was an unsafe way to medicate your child and something happened. Doctors are more careful than ever these days. If you trust your doctor, I think you will be fine. Good luck!



answers from Lafayette on

My doctor won't allow cough/cold medicine in any child under the age of 2. I would suggest little's a saline solution to make the mucus easier to suction out of the nose, run a humidifier or vaporizer, give her plenty of fluids to help thin the mucus, put the head of the crib on a couple of books if the crib doesn't have wheels so that she's sleeping on an makes it a little easier to breath than sleeping flat on your back, tylenol for fever. And if it's really bad, you could sit in the bathroom with her, shut the shower curtain, turn the water on hot, shut the bathroom door and put a towel at the bottom of the door so the bathroom fills with steam and see if that helps loosen things up. On the bright side...most viruses only last 7 to 14 days, so while she may be miserable right now, it won't last forever. If she's not better in that time, you need to have her checked out to be sure that it's not bacterial. Also if the mucus in her nose turns green, that's a sign that it may be bacterial and she'll need antibiotics at that point.



answers from Lexington on

i agree with the others. most peds don't recommend giving a baby cold medicine. saline drops, vaporizers, tylenol, baby vicks vapor rub, and lots of love and attention are best for sick little ones. just make sure to keep her hydrated too...water, pediatile, popsickles, water ever she'll take. i might call around to so other peds and get a second opinion. hope she feels better.



answers from Louisville on

Most Peds won't even recomend cough meds to a young child. That's unless they believe it would benifit the child. My son was on infant Dimatapp at a mth old but he was very congested. Also I read the asticles u have up and they were basically on Psuedophedrine. Which in most infant meds they have replace with another drug that isn't supposed to be so dangerous. If and when u decide to give your child any over the counter meds make sure u check with her doctor first and get the EXACT dosage for her size. And make sure u know EXACTLY what your giving her. that way u can reming the dr when he prescribes meds. I hope this helps some.



answers from Charleston on

i have a 3 month old with the same problem i havent been giving him any medecine unless he gets bad and then ive just been giving him his tylenol and that seems to help.



answers from Lafayette on

For a cough, our pediatrician recommended Children's Dimetapp, 1/4 tsp. (based on my baby). You could speak with a pharmacist at the store for dosing info or recommendation for other medications.

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