Tips for avoiding catching colds

Kristin's passed along some cold season tips I've never heard before (and wish I had years ago):

These are all from our pediatrician, and have helped lower the number and severity of colds that the kids get.

Immediately wipe down their faces (especially under the nose) and hands whenever you put kids back into their car seats. Helps keep the cold critters from staking a claim. We use diaper wipes.

Don't let them nap in the clothes they wore outside. Better yet, remove all clothes after play in communal areas (parks, indoor playgrounds, PRESCHOOL) and toss them in the laundry. We nap the kids in their PJs.

Spray saline solution into their noses every night. Target sells small bottles for about 79 cents and they last a month or so. Be sure keep your squeeze on as long as the tip is in the nose (to not suck in snot), then spray a bit out into the tub or sink after you've sprayed in the nose (to clean the tip).

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Cold and flu season tips


  1. Daffodil says

    I love that first time about wiping off when you buckle into the car — such a smart idea!

    I’m curious what the change of clothes does, though. I’m sure it does something — I just can’t quite figure out what. And doesn’t this mean a ton of extra laundry?

  2. shirky says

    how do you get the kids to…let’s say…not claw your face off while you’re administering saline?

  3. AV says

    They’re good tips, and they got me thinking more about preventing rather than just treating colds.
    Not to be a Debbie Downer, but somehow I don’t think daycare’s going to be cool with me expecting them to change my kid’s clothes whenever he naps.
    And I agree with shirky on the saline thing. We need a whole separate hack on how to do that. (If it’s anything like administering eyedrops, I’m out.)

  4. says

    I love the carseat wipedown routine! Its so easy to forget to wash up when we get home because we’re moving on to the next thing.

    We live in the North, and our winters are very cold and very dry, so we use cool mist humidifiers in all the bedrooms all winter. It definitely seems to cut down on illness. Maybe that’s an alternative to the saline (especially for those of us with multiple kids who would need to keep the various saline bottles straight so we don’t spread germs from one nose to the next)?

  5. says

    Ooh, one more variation on these for folks with “real” winter. I like LL Bean’s fleece coveralls for toddlers. Since their indoor clothes are completely covered, when you get home you can just take off the coveralls when you get home, and the germs stay in the mudroom.

  6. joy says

    (sorry, nancy, just couldn’t resist!)
    i think that this hack and discussion is more about how to NOT be sick all winter long. sometimes here it seems that we pass germs from family member to family member for months on end– and we’re in florida!

  7. kristin says

    hey there, this is Kristin.

    My kids put up with the saline fairly well. We tend to bulk it in with a discussion about “cavity bugs.” Not that they like it, but they put up with it.

    Did you know that one of the major bits of dirt on airport chairs is dog hair?! Yup, we carry a ton of (mostly icky) crap around on our clothes, and deposit it wherever we sit. Keeping it out of the bed (or at least off the pillow) is a help. I usually put the kids back into their pants after nap and use a new and/or play shirt. Daycare sleep is out of my range of experience.

    And, yes, these are all tips for shortening the length and frequency of winter colds (or summer or fall or …). The bugs are still out there, this just keeps them from making a more permanent fort of your child’s system.

  8. Michelle says

    Nancy – nope. I agree. My daughter went through a phase when she started daycare (she was 2), where she was sick for a bit. Now she rarely get sick. I make sure we wash her hands and face before we leave the school for the day but other than that I try not to obsess too much. :o)

  9. says

    I’m not a germaphobe, but the first year of my son’s life I blew through my sick leave by early May. This year (he’s 2 now) I didn’t run out mid Sept (Monday, and it was totally unrelated to my son – for once!), so anything that keeps us from getting ‘deathly ill’ is great.

    I started doing the daily saline up the nose after seeing my immuno-suppressed sister do it to her twins. So far it has lessened the severity of the one cold he has caught since then (and a couple kids in his daycare have been out – but not him.)

    It is a complete struggle to give it to him: I have to spring it on him and be really quick. If not, I have to pin him down holding his hands away and securing his head. It is not fun and I apologize profusely, but tell him it is to keep him well. My sister has been doing this since her kids were itty bitty so they snuffle after the fact, but don’t fight her on it.

  10. cmcinnyc says

    I swear by the saline for my toddler AND me. She used to kick and scream about the saline, but then she got fascinated by how disgusting snot can be. The aspirator bulb is now known as the “snot monster” and she is happy to “squirt salt up my nose” if she can do it herself. Making a big deal out of the grossness of it all really hooked her. We have the type of conversations about it that would make a non-parent gag but I’m sure you all are tough enough to really get into snot if it means you can use the saline twice a day. I think it not only prevents colds, it speeds up recovery when she does catch one. Certainly helps her sleep better when stuffy.