Sure, they went to medical school and have cared for thousands of children, but what do pediatricians do when their own children have a hacking cough, a stuffy nose, or a fever?
When her kids have a cold, Joanne Decker, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, lets a shower run to steam up the bathroom, then puts Madeleine, 6 1/2, Jack, 4, and Will, 1, in a tepid bubble bath filled with tub toys. "The steam loosens up the mucus in their stuffy noses, the bath brings down their fever, and the bubbles and toys keep their minds off their symptoms," says Dr. Decker. (When they were babies, she'd just take them into the shower with her.) To relieve congestion, she relies on over-the-counter nasal saline sprays and cool-mist vaporizers in their bedroom at night. For mild sore throats, Dr. Decker gives them frozen fruit-juice pops. "And watching extra videos can help take their minds off their misery," she says.
Elizabeth Alderman, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, in New York, says, "I try to reduce the physical discomfort and stuffiness that come with a bad cold." She makes sure her two children, ages 9 and 6, drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest and TLC - and acetaminophen when needed. And to encourage them to use a tissue for more than just wiping, she tells her kids to pretend they're blowing out their birthday candles with their nose. Beyond that, says Dr. Alderman, "a cold bug usually just needs to run its course. But when one of my kids sounds super-stuffy, sometimes I'll give him a dose of Dimetapp before he goes to bed to help him sleep through the night more easily."