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Kids' Cold Medicine: How To Select The Best Medicine For Your Child

What To Look For In The Medicine Aisle

Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology Profile Photo

Written by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology on September 29, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

As adults, we’re used to getting maybe one or two colds per year. Our immune systems have had decades to build up resistance to many common viruses and bacteria. But kids have new immune systems that don’t quite have the same experience.

So, it’s not particularly surprising that kids get colds all the time, especially once they start school. Still, parents often worry about their kids when they have a bad cold and look for medicine to help relieve their symptoms.

It can be tough to know what kids’ cold medicine is right for your child when there are so many brands to pick from and so many ingredients to try to understand. Let’s take a look at how you can choose great cold medicine for your child and go over what to look for when picking between different medicine brands.

Categories of Kids Cold Medicine

When you walk into a typical grocery store, you’ll find a kids cold medicine for almost any need or symptom.

But even the most complex or over-produced kids medicine will still fit into four broad categories:

  1. Cough suppressants are the number one most common type of kids cold medicine on the market. These typically use core ingredients like dextromethorphan, also called DM. Cough suppressants are used to minimize coughing and are good choices if your child is suffering from dry or unproductive coughs.
  2. Cough expectorants are technically another type of cough suppressant, but they’re designed to thin mucus and make it easier for mucus to be coughed up and ejected from your child’s lungs. This is best used for kids with wet or productive coughs. Their core ingredient is usually guaifenesin.
  3. Decongestants, which typically contain ingredients like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. Decongestants break up mucus in the nasal passages to assist with breathing.
  4. Antihistamines, which include core ingredients like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine, and diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl). Antihistamines are anti-allergens and pain suppressants.

It sounds great that there are plenty of cold medicines available for kids… at first. However, parents need to know the risks associated with kids’ cold medicines before giving their children a remedy for one or more symptoms.

Risks of Kids Cold Medicines

All cold medicines on the shelf have to be tested before they are legally sold in the United States. But although pharmaceutical companies do test their cold medicines before bringing them to market, they usually test them on adults.

This practice is much riskier than you might think. Children have much smaller bodies than adults, as well as different metabolic levels and other chemical processes. In other words, children don’t react to medicine in the same way as their parents.

Therefore, many kids' medicines may be totally safe for adults to take, but may actually be riskier than advertised for the children they are meant to treat.

This being said, most cough and cold medicine risks are minor. Very few children experience allergic or other negative reactions when taking cold medicines safely and in the correct amounts. However, the CDC does indicate that thousands of children under the age of 12 visit emergency rooms every year due to negative reactions to cold and cough medicine.

Furthermore, kids sometimes take too much cold or cough medicine when they are left unsupervised. At the end, while kids' cold medicines are valuable tools, parents should look carefully to find the best cold medicine for their needs. They should also ensure that any medicine use is supervised, and unused medicine is kept out of their children’s reach.

How To Find Healthy Cold Medicine for Your Child

Since most pharmacies and grocery stores have too many kids' cold medicine brands to count, it can be difficult for new parents to know which medicine they can trust.

Genexa understands parental concerns. That’s why each Genexa’s medicine is made with real, clean ingredients, rather than being filled with unnecessary artificial inactive ingredients that don’t actually help relieve the symptoms you are taking the medication for.

Genexa’s Kids’ Cold Crush is a homeopathic remedy for kids that can address many common cold symptoms, such as congestion, coughing, sore throats, and sneezing.. It only has the ingredients necessary to get the job done, like echinacea angustifolia and chamomile.

The core idea behind each of Genexa’s formulas is that no one, especially kids, needs artificial inactive ingredients in their medicine that don’t serve an actual beneficial purpose toward getting better. Some of these artificial inactive ingredients are potentially bad for our bodies and sometimes even bad for the environment.

Parents should consider trying Genexa’s Kids’ Cold Crush if they’re looking for an organic cold remedy for their children that sets a standard for clean medicine:

  • Made with as few ingredients as possible. Pharmaceutical companies often use numerous synthetic inactive ingredients to increase shelf life or to improve taste or even just color.
  • Made with clean inactive ingredients.. While frequently the active ingredients in OTC medicines may need to be artificially derived, it isn’t true that inactive ingredients have to be artificial. Inactive ingredients that are organic are likely to be better absorbed by the body compared to their synthesized, often cheaper to manufacture, counterparts.
  • Made with chewable tablets for kids. Chewable tablets are usually easier for kids to take, especially picky ones who can’t swallow capsules or won’t stand for the taste of most liquid medicines dubbed “cherry” or “grape.”

When To Use Cold Medicine for Your Child

Cold medicine can be a lifesaver for a parent who just wants to help their kid feel better in the midst of a bad cold. However, it’s also important to know when cold medicine is an appropriate solution for your child.

Infant to 2 Years Old

In most cases, it’s not recommended to give any cold medicine to infants or toddlers under the age of two. In fact, manufacturers are no longer allowed to create infant cold and cough medications due to FDA recommendations.

You should similarly avoid giving infants and very small children even small doses of cough and cold medicine in your cabinet.

2-4 Years Old

Kids between the ages of two and four are in a transition phase. While they can take many OTC and common cold medications, you should speak to your pediatrician about what’s appropriate for their needs. Some medications may technically be fine, but they may also trigger negative reactions in your children.

4-6 Years Old

Kids aged 4 to 6 can take many types of cold medicine, although it’s still wise to consult with your pediatrician before giving them a new medicine. Genexa’s cold medicine is formulated for kids over the age of three, so it’s a fine choice if you want something to help relieve your little one’s cold symptoms.

6+ Years Old

Once your children reach age 6, they’re likely mature enough to take most common kids cold medicine. Most cold medicine for kids is formulated for children around this age and the risk for side effects is significantly lower than it is for younger kids.


In the end, use your best judgment when selecting cold medicine for your child. The best cold medicine should be made with simple, clean, and organic ingredients whenever possible. That’s why Genexa’s cold medicine is such an important pioneer in the pharma industry.

Far too many pharmaceutical companies pack their kids’ medicine with unnecessary, synthetic, inactive ingredients that don’t offer any real medicinal benefit. But Genexa is here to be different and put people first – they’re on a mission to change the medicine industry one formula at a time. Try their cough and cold medicine today if your child needs relief from common cold symptoms.