Mom’s Must-Haves for Cold and Flu Season with Kids


Cold, sick and covid child in bed, sad and ill with allergy and flu at home with his worried mother. Parents hand on son's forehead for his temperature as she checks his fever with a thermometerI love everything about this season. Well, almost everything. Sharing food, laughter, and time with loved ones makes this season such a joyous time of year. One thing I could do without sharing, though, is the germs. Having a young family during this season is hard because inevitably, we all will get sick. Despite our best efforts, there’s no way to avoid it altogether. The key is to be prepared. I put together a list of things (other than Tylenol) to have on hand in your medicine cabinet, so you can hopefully avoid those late-night runs to CVS this season.

  1. Thermometer: It may sound like common sense, but go ahead and change those batteries now, so you aren’t caught off guard by a feverish kiddo. That is unless you’re fancy and have one of those that doesn’t require batteries. In that case, you have much more trust in your temperature reading abilities than I do, and for that I commend you.
  2. Vapor Rub: Ah, just imagining the smell brings up images of Bob Barker and Campbell’s soup. There are a ton of natural vapor rub products on the market if that’s your jam, too. Please make sure to follow the instructions for use. Don’t put it anywhere on your kiddo’s face, or nose as it can block nostrils if you aren’t careful.
  3. Pedialyte or other electrolyte-filled drink: I hope you can escape this cold and flu season without getting a stomach bug. But if not, it’s nice to have your drinks on hand. That way, when the bug hits and everyone has bought all of the Pedialyte in New England, you will have your hydration system all set and ready to go.
  4. Nasal Saline + Nose Frida: Saline is an effective, natural way to clear those stuffy noses. And trust me on the Nose Frida. It grossed me out until my fourth child had the cold of her life. In a moment of desperation, I bought it, and immediately regretted not getting it years earlier to use with my other young kids. It’s not as gross as it looks, and it’s quick and effective.
  5. Hand Sanitizer: Obvious, but it’s good to be reminded.
  6. Honey + lemon juice: Am I the only person who drank a concoction of honey, lemon, and apple cider vinegar as a kid? Well, these old remedies have stood the test of time for a reason. Studies show that honey is just as effective as an over-the-counter cough suppressant. Of course, be careful when giving your child honey. They need to be over one year old to reduce the risk of botulism, which can poison infants.
  7. Humidifier: Ok, this won’t fit in your medicine cabinet, but hear me out anyway. Moisture in the air helps break up thick mucus. Some people add oils or breathing agents to their humidifiers, but there is plenty of benefit to just filling it with water and letting it run in your child’s room as they sleep. If your child has asthma, anything with fragrance (even natural fragrance) can trigger an attack. Water is natural and effective. If you need something stronger than a humidifier, steaming up the bathroom with a hot shower works wonders for kids too. Last year, croup kept us in our bathroom so often, that I renamed it “Sauna Johnson.” Maybe this year, I’ll add a lovely eucalyptus treatment to the package.
  8. New toothbrushes: This is just something I do in my own home, but anytime we get over a sickness, we get new toothbrushes. The kids love it because it’s kind of a morale boost. “Hey, we made it through this cold in one piece, here’s a new toothbrush to celebrate.”

If you have a favorite multivitamin or immune-boosting regimen, now is a good time to start it. And if you’re managing asthmatic kids, make sure you refill those inhalers and nebulizer treatments too, so you aren’t scrambling during sickness.

Here’s to a healthy winter season ahead of us.

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Jessica Johnson
Jess and her husband live in Cranston, where she homeschools their four kids full-time. She enjoys sharing about the highs and lows of motherhood through writing about many topics including mental health, home education, and chronic illness. She loves personality tests (as INFPs tend to), Golden Age detective novels, and is probably the only person you know of who still watches Survivor. She is thrilled to be writing with Providence Mom again and hopes to encourage others with honesty and kindness.


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