The mom's guide to cold & flu season essentials

Dec 2, 2009 at 6:08 p.m. ET

Cold season is in full swing, and when your little one tugs on your pant leg and says, "Mommy, I don't feel good," she's counting on you to come to the rescue. With a few feel-good products on hand all winter long, moms can help sick kids feel better.

Mom with Chicken soup

vitamin C

An effective way to boost the immune system is getting an ample daily dose of vitamin C. According to, this vitamin powerhouse is also a great way to prevent cold complications such as pneumonia.

Don't just think orange fruits when it comes to vitamin C. This mega-vitamin can be found in foods from cabbage to spinach and lots in between. If your kiddo balks at eating her green veggies, you can always disguise spinach by blending it with spaghetti sauce. A tall glass of orange juice at breakfast and a multivitamin at night are simple ways to get this vitamin in, too.

Vaporizer or humidifier

Combine cold weather and indoor heating, and you'll get dry air inside. A vaporizer (available in both steam and waterless versions) can restore much-needed moisture to your home, make breathing easier for those with colds and can also help prevent dry, cracking skin. A cool-mist air humidifier can also add moisture to a child's room and make congested breathing a breeze.

soft tissues

When a runny nose just won't quit, soft tissues are key. Frequent nose blowing can lead to redness and irritation, so the softer the tissue, the better. Look for tissues with aloe vera, vitamin E and shea butter. For babies with runny noses, a suction bulb nasal aspirator works wonders for getting all of the mucus out.


Most colds don't cause fevers, but moms need to keep an eye out: A fever could indicate a case of the flu. New and improved tech-savvy thermometers line store shelves, and options range from battery-powered under-the-tongue models to those that get their no-touch-required readings using infrared technology (perfect for squirmy kidlets).

For children younger than 3 months of age, doctors recommend calling the pediatrician if a rectal temperature is higher than 100.4 F and higher than 101 F for ages 3 to 6 months. Also, call your child's doctor if a fever lasts more than two days.


There's something about a steaming cup of chicken noodle soup that instantly makes everyone feel better. The clear broth, hearty noodles and little chunks of chicken seem to work like magic on a sore throat or upset tummy. Have a bored sick kid? Let her help you make your own homemade version by adding noodles to boiling chicken broth. While the noodles cook, she can string pasta onto yarn to create a necklace.