5 myths about kids and winter sickness (and what actually helps).

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Winter is coming. Cue: chunky woollen knits, warm mulled wine and hearty meals to eat fireside.    

Oh wait, that’s right. I’m a mum so the baby’s vomited on my (dry clean only) chunky knit and the 3-year-old’s knocked over my mulled wine as she makes a beeline for that deathtrap of an open fire.   

The parenting reality check: the colder season really means snot and winter sickness coming in thick and fast.

And the only thing coming thicker than all that paediatric phlegm is unsolicited parenting advice and unsubstantiated medical myths.

Let's dive into some of my favourite fictions and – in the spirit of the winter solstice – five tips that always really help my family cope with winter sickness:

Myth: “Daycare kids are sick all winter.”

The reality: Look, it’s not untrue... but realistically if we were going to pull the kids out of daycare for this reason it would only work if we cut ourselves off from all other children all winter. No playing in the park, no library, no play dates. And then after all that, I’d just turn around and find my 3-year-old licking the checkout counter at Kmart. 

What actually helps: We can’t avoid daycare germs but there are some basic things I try (keyword try) to do to help stop the spread once we get home. I keep their nails short, as long nails are a perfect harbour for bacteria. I wash sleeping bags and blankies on return from daycare. Bath and hair wash every daycare night is an easy win, and even as far as no playing in the bedrooms or beds before this happens, just to be extra safe. We practice regular hand washing, sanitising and wiping; and we’re working on sneezing into elbows. Might have this one in the bag by winter 2022. 

Myth: “Insist that your GP gives you antibiotics, it’s the only thing to beat a nasty cold.”

The reality: Colds are caused by viruses, so they aren't treatable with antibiotics, which only kill bacteria. Important one to remember.

What actually helps: Just because you can’t use antibiotics to cure a cold, doesn’t mean you can’t treat the symptoms to give everyone relief and a semi-decent sleep (very important for the adults in my household). Sleep is medicine. 

But also... medicine is medicine. Little Coughs is a super nice tasting cough syrup (this exists!) specially developed for the temporary soothing relief of coughs and chesty congestion from a cold. When colds rear their ugly head in our house, this is the one I always grab for us to ease the full brunt of those symptoms. 

It has extract of ivy leaf in it, which is a herbal remedy that gives soothing relief of chesty coughs, particularly handy when we're all sleeping in rooms next to each other. To reiterate: uninterrupted sleep is golden. (But make sure you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using in children under 2 years). 

Top tip for giving (basically any) medicine to little kids is: DO IT IN THE BATH. No matter how tasty the treatment, my girls will wriggle, blow bubbles, spit, try to grab the syringe, put their fingers in their mouth... all of the above. This way I’m in the right place to wash them (and me) off.

The Little Coughs syrup comes in 2 flavours (each of my girls have a different favourite: the little one prefers the original, and the 3-year-old MUST have the raspberry). They've got no added gluten, wheat or lactose too which is a good-to-know measure especially for our youngest daughter, as we're figuring out as we go if she has any allergies.




Myth: “Get a cold, catch a cold” also known as, “Your child should be wearing a coat.”

The reality: Colds are caused by viruses, passed from person to person. 

While colds (and the flu) are more common in winter, children and adults alike are just as likely to pick up a virus inside and all rugged up. In fact, as we know from recent restrictions, it’s easier for viruses to spread from people sneezing and coughing in an enclosed indoor space. So that’s one less thing to feel guilty about when my 3-year-old refuses to wear a coat over her tutu and my youngest wants to eat her hat.

What actually helps: Past a certain point, I worry more about what’s on their faces than on their bodies. Specifically I keep nappy cream or nipple balm handy – but not for the areas you’d expect. Cold air, plus snot and lots of wiping are a recipe for sore noses and painful chapped lips. I smother their whole nose and upper lip area in a layer of barrier cream during the day to protect their delicate skin. Nipple cream also makes an amazing lip balm for me. Not kidding. 

Myth: “You should teach your child not to cough.”

The reality: Let’s all take a moment to imagine me having to convince a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old with chest congestion not to cough. Wow. And also: how? Show me your ways, passive-aggressive Karen in the line at Coles. Moving on, coughing is actually a protective mechanism that clears mucus from the respiratory tract. In other words: it's got to be done.

The only way to guarantee we (she) won't be coughing on anyone! Image: Supplied. 


What actually helps: No one has invented one of those snot sucker things to use for lungs yet but there are a few options to help loosen the phlegm. 

This is where the natural Ivy Leaf extract in Little Coughs  is the saviour of the day (but more importantly: night), in that it helps break down mucus and clear the chest when your little ones have a wet cough. It's an ingredient that's been used for centuries in traditional medicine, so it's honestly the syrup every parent needs in their medicine collection (I just grabbed mine from my local pharmacy, but it's also available at Priceline too). 

Sounds icky, but thinning out the phlegm means it’s easier to bring up, creating a more productive cough. This is a big relief as a parent having to watch your kids battle through these symptoms. 

Myth: “Green snot means you are dealing with a sinus infection.”

The reality: We’ve had almost every colour of nasal secretions (gag) in this house. Special mention to the purple play-dough. It turns out that medically, it’s very normal for colds to go through a yellowish or greenish phase. 

What actually helps: Colour aside, did you know that kids can give themselves an eye infection by wiping their nose and then putting their dirty paws in their eye/s? Lovely. As if we needed gunky eyes on top of everything else. To avoid getting to that point whenever we can, in winter I clean the girls' eyes out with these eye wipes (one per eye so as not to cross contaminate) when I wipe their overflowing noses.

And finally, a motivational pep talk for new parents facing your first cold season. Yes, it can be hard, but battling it with 10,000 tissues and medical myths alone is harder. Talk to your friends, WhatsApp your mums’ group; everyone has a little tip or trick to make it easier. With the right products and evidence-based advice, you’ll breeze through winter and we’ll be welcoming margarita season in no time. 

Available at all leading pharmacies. Remember to always read the label, follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Consult your health professional before using Little Coughs in children under 2 years of age.

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The Little™ products are available at all leading pharmacies.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Consult your health professional before using Little Coughs in children under two years of age.