The Super Parent’s 5-Step Feel-Better Bedtime Routine For A Kiddo With A Cold

This routine will literally and figuratively get you through the night.

by Una LaMarche
Sick kiddo blowing his nose

The common cold is called “common” for a reason, but every parent knows that the minute your kid gets sick, life is anything but. When you’re scrambling to reschedule work meetings so you can stay home, managing (or, let’s face it — totally ignoring) remote schoolwork, and, of course, suddenly dealing with sleep problems in kids who haven’t kept you up at night since they were in diapers, it’s enough to make even the most together mom lose her exhausted mind.

Thankfully, Vicks has your back with honeylicious DayQuil and NyQuil Kids, specially formulated for kids to soothe their colds, coughs, and congestion so that everyone in the family can get the rest and recovery they so desperately need. Here is our go-to five-step bedtime routine for sick kiddos that will literally and figuratively get you through the night:

1. Set Yourself Up For Success With A Quiet(er) Sick Day

There’s no denying that while night and day are opposites, they affect each other. After a bad night, a kid is set up for a tired, cranky day — and vice versa. That’s why it’s so important to develop sick day habits that promote rest and relaxation (LOL, easier said than done, we know). Pick a sick day “home base” for your child, whether it’s their bed or the living room sofa, and set them up with pillows and blankets, books and coloring materials, and, of course, everyone’s sick day BFF: some kind of screen!

Keep them hydrated with water and throat-soothing herbal teas, and offer nutritious comfort foods and snacks. If your kiddo is six or older, Vicks DayQuil Kids Cold and Cough + Mucus will help bring fast relief to stuffy noses and coughs, and the honeylicious flavor means no fighting over taking their medicine [cue chorus of angels].

2. Give Their Bedroom a Cold-Fighting Makeover

As soon as you hear a cough or sniffle, that means it’s time to make your child’s bedroom a healing oasis of soothing comfort (piles of toys and/or tween funk notwithstanding). Our tried-and-true “makeover” would never pass muster with design shows, but trust us: it’ll make your kiddo feel comfy and cared for. Change the sheets and add an extra pillow (simply propping their heads up can ease coughing and congestion), and bring in the coziest blankets and most beloved stuffies you’ve got. The pièce de résistance: a cool mist humidifier, placed on the nightstand and angled so your kid gets a faceful of cool, moist air all night long (cool mist humidifiers can reduce swelling in nasal passages, making breathing easier, which usually means better sleep!)

3. Rewind Their Nightly Wind Down

When your kid has a cold, rest is one of the best ways they can recover, which means an earlier bedtime is a must. Start your nightly wind down as early as possible, cutting off screens and turning down lights/closing curtains. A calming soak with lavender bubble bath is a great way to soothe aches and pains while also priming their bodies for relaxation. And yes, we know that “relaxation” and “children” do not generally go hand-in-hand, but it’s worth a try anyway — even if that means physically restraining your weakened, snotty child from joining a sibling wrestling match.

4. Let Them Drink Their Dinner

Turns out Grandma was right — chicken soup for dinner (or a vegetable soup if you don’t eat meat) can actually help ease cold symptoms! Warm broth is both hydrating and soothing if your little one has a sore throat, and the vitamins in carrots, celery and other veggies contain immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. Chicken, like turkey, also contains high levels of tryptophan — yup, the essential amino acid that makes you fall asleep on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner every year — as well as protein to help kids build antibodies to fight infection and let their bodies heal.

5. Give Them Medicine That Will Keep Them Comfy All Night

A good cold and cough medicine is truly a parent’s best friend when illness strikes a member of the family who does not handle physical discomfort with grace (to be clear, we’re talking about children and not adult partners, ba-dum-dum-tss). That’s why we reach for Vicks NyQuil Kids Cold and Cough + Congestion when our kiddos get stuffy and uncomfortable at nighttime. Vicks has been a trusted cough and cold brand for 125 years, and they flavored this with real honey, just for kids. Not only does it taste great and soothe the sneezing, coughing, and congestion that keeps them (and, um, you) up at night, but it’s also free of alcohol, aspirin, acetaminophen, and high fructose corn syrup. Now, that’s some sweet relief for kids and parents alike.