Tips for looking after children at home 

  • If a child is behaving normally and can manage to eat and drink, then it is safe to look after them at home – with plenty of cuddles! 

  • You should watch them closely in case their condition gets worse. Usually, they will get better within 3 to 4 days, but their cough can last up to 3 weeks. 

  • Babies may find it more tiring to feed so they should be offered shorter, more frequent feeds 

  • You can use saline drops in their nose to help break up any blockages, and raise the head end of their bed or cot. 

  • In children over one, you can offer them a little bit of honey in a drink to soothe their throat. 

  • In children over two, you can use vapor rub to help clear their airways. 

  • Paracetamol can be offered to children to help manage their symptoms, particularly if their temperature is slightly higher than the normal range of 36.6-37.2C. 

  • Consider air quality around your child: they should not be exposed to tobacco smoke, pollution or scented air fresheners. Wherever possible, rooms should be kept well-ventilated and any mould cleaned from the walls. 

  • Follow the usual guidelines to avoid spreading germs: cover your mouth when you cough, throw away tissues and wash hands regularly. 

  • If the child has any symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature; new continuous cough - coughing for more than an hour or more than three times in a day; or loss of taste/smell) then arrange for your child to be tested via the NHS testing website or by calling the NHS coronavirus call centre on 119. You and anyone in your support bubble must remain at home (isolate) until your child's test results are back. 

What to look out for and where to seek help 

We recommend using the NHS and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s symptom traffic light system. 

You can check what the symptoms should look like here: 

Clips of abnormal signs in babies

Watch the advice from our health experts

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Expert advice on coughs and colds from Rukshana Kapasi, Director of Health at Barnardo's

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Advice on coughs and colds from health experts