My Toddler and I Had RSV—These 11 Products Were the Next Best Thing to a Cure

Humidifiers, saline spray, and more ways to provide relief to kids and adults

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RSV At-Home Products That Worked

Verywell Health / Kevin Liang

My family had just arrived 24 hours earlier in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for what was meant to be an exciting weekend getaway until it hit—RSV, a highly contagious virus that attacks both children and adults. Now, my usually healthy 3-year-old was suddenly coughing, puking, and (the biggest shocker) tired before bedtime. We packed up immediately to make the three-hour trip back home.  

“RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a respiratory illness that causes a common cold in most people but can cause more significant breathing problems in infants and young children,” explains Jonathan Miller, MD, chief of primary care for Nemours Children’s Health, Delaware Valley. “In children and adults, the virus causes common cold symptoms, such as a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, mild headache, cough, fever, not eating or drinking well, and a general ill feeling.”

We didn’t know it was RSV until our son underwent a test at his doctor’s office. Fast forward barely two days later, and—you guessed it—I was sick, too. My toddler and I had similar symptoms: a horrendous cough deep in our chests, fever, constant congestion, and a lack of appetite. Plus, the sinus pressure gave me several days of headaches. Though we didn’t land in the hospital, we did long for some kind of relief from all of this, and it wasn’t going to come from a prescription.

“Antibiotics are not used because RSV is a virus—antibiotics work only against bacteria,” said Dr. Miller. “Most cases of RSV are mild and can be treated at home. At-home care includes making children as comfortable as possible, allowing time and rest for recovery, and providing plenty of fluids. … Parents should get medical help right away at an urgent care clinic or emergency department if their child is struggling to catch their breath, is very drowsy and difficult to arouse, or if their skin coloration is off, such as a blue tint around the lips or fingernails, which could indicate that the child is not getting enough oxygen.” 

So, at-home care is just what we got. Surprisingly (and thankfully), my husband stayed well, so he masked up and brought us the goods to feel better. Below, you’ll find everything my toddler and I used to treat our RSV symptoms and feel normal again. 

Pure Enrichment Humidifier

Amazon

To buy: Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, $40, amazon.com, walmart.com

“Once you have the virus, you can treat the symptoms of the virus, and we encourage parents to treat the symptoms at home, especially if their kids are not at high risk and are only having the upper respiratory symptoms from it,” Therese Linnon, DO, FAAP, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital, told Verywell Family. “So, you can treat them with fluids, Tylenol or Motrin, rest, and humidified air.”

This humidifier is small (holding 1.7 liters) but mighty, putting moisture back into dry air in rooms up to 250 square feet. There are two speed settings, low and high, which push cool mist through the 360-degree nozzle. I loved the optional night-light for my son, which provided a soft blue glow in the middle of the night, while the automatic shut-off feature ensured his safety when the water tank ran low.

Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Amazon

To buy: Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, $55, amazon.com, walmart.com, bestbuy.com

This Crane cool-mist humidifier, which offers 500 square feet of coverage, was ideal in our master bedroom. An adjustable 360-degree lid sends mist in any direction from the 1-gallon tank to help everyone breathe better. 

However, you’ll still want to keep an eye on your child’s breathing, looking out for whether “they're having increased work of breathing or they're struggling to breathe and eat at the same time,” said Dr. Linnon. “Also, [check] if they’re dehydrated because when kids have any viral illness, that can lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include urinating less than usual or fewer wet diapers than usual, sunken eyes and/or a sunken soft spot on the top of the head in infants, no tears when crying, and dry or sticky mouth.”

RELATED: The Best Humidifiers for Babies to Help Your Child Breathe Easy

Nature Nate’s 100% Pure, Raw & Unfiltered Honey

Amazon

To buy: Nature Nate’s 100% Pure, Raw & Unfiltered Honey, $11, amazon.com, walmart.com

If you suffer from a sore throat with RSV (I did!), you’ll want to have honey on hand. Honey can relieve a cough and sore throat, which is why we opted for Nature Nate’s 100% raw and pure honey. There are no additives, preservatives, or other unwelcome ingredients, and the squeeze bottle makes it less messy to put on a spoon for consumption. Plus, it is downright delicious. 

It’s important to note that children under the age of 1 year old should never consume honey due to the risk of botulism. For children ages 1 to 5, try half a teaspoon of honey, and for children ages 6 to 11, try one teaspoon of honey. Children over the age of 12 can try two teaspoons.

Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment

Amazon

To buy: Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment, $12, amazon.com, walmart.com, target.com

In addition to needing moisture put back into the air, you’ll likely need some hydration help on your skin, too, particularly on the nose. My son’s and my noses were left feeling dry and raw after blowing them so often, but Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment nourished our skin with a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free healing formula. It’s also safe to use for dry and chapped skin caused by drool or diaper rashes.

The First Years American Red Cross Thermometer

Amazon

To buy: The First Years American Red Cross Multi-Use Baby Thermometer, $9, amazon.com, walmart.com 

A high fever is dangerous to a child, so you’ll want a trusty thermometer on hand. We used the First Years American Red Cross thermometer under our son’s armpit, but it’s also safe to use rectally or orally. (If you choose to use it as a rectal thermometer, buy a backup and don’t reuse it for oral purposes.) It has only one button to push, a digital display for easy reading, and a protective covering for travel purposes. 

“Parents should call their health care provider if their child develops a high fever, cough, or other symptoms that get worse,” said Dr. Miller. “Other concerning symptoms include wheezing, labored or rapid breathing, or signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet diapers than usual. Parents should also call if infants are very cranky or refuse to breastfeed or bottle-feed.”

RELATED: The Best Baby Thermometers, Tested by Real Moms and Their Littles

Children's Tylenol Oral Suspension Acetaminophen Medicine

Amazon

To buy: Children's Tylenol Pain and Fever Relief, $7, amazon.com, walmart.com, walgreens.com

Recommended for children ages 2 to 11, Children’s Tylenol Pain and Fever provides temporary relief from RSV symptoms like fever and headache. It’s available in different flavors, such as grape or bubble gum, and its formula features the active ingredient acetaminophen.

“Acetaminophen can help relieve fevers and discomfort. For children older than 6 months, ibuprofen is also an option for fever and discomfort,” says Dr. Miller. “Do not give aspirin, which is linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness. Do not use over-the-counter cough or cold medicines without a pediatrician’s advice since these can be dangerous for young kids.”

Before using any medication, discuss it with your child’s pediatrician first, especially high-risk infants. “Some high-risk infants are eligible for a medication called Palivizumab that can prevent RSV during the high-risk season,” Dr. Miller adds. “Families of infants with underlying health problems should discuss [treatment] with their pediatrician.

Advil Liqui-Gels Pain and Headache Reliever

Walmart

To buy: Advil Liqui-Gels Pain and Headache Reliever, $21, walmart.com, amazon.com

For teens and adults, Advil Liqui-Gels are handy for many cold-like symptoms, like fever, headache, and body aches. Each capsule contains 200 milligrams of ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and should be taken by those 12 and older. “Tylenol and Ibuprofen can also help with discomfort,” said Dr. Casares. 

I personally carried this bottle with me everywhere for a week straight. (Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any medicine.)

 Vicks Sinex Children's Saline Nasal Spray

Amazon

To buy: Vicks Sinex Children's Saline Nasal Spray, $18 (two-pack) or $9 (one-pack), amazon.com, walgreens.com, walmart.com 

Before clearing young children’s nasal passages, you may need help loosening the gunk inside. “Antibiotics don’t work to reduce [RSV] symptoms, nor do steroids in most cases. Warm, steamy baths or showers do, however, help to open up the airways,” explains Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, pediatrician, author of “The Working Mom Blueprint,” and founder of Modern Mommy Doc. “Similarly, using nasal saline mist in the nose can thin and loosen mucus, making it easier to eliminate and less likely to collect in the lungs.”

The Vicks Sinex Children’s saline spray is recommended for children ages 1 and up and doesn’t contain any nasal decongestant medicine. Instead, purified saline solution sprays through an easy-to-use nozzle (my favorite feature) as a light mist for extra gentleness. 

Comfort Axis Baby Nasal Aspirator

Amazon

To buy: Comfort Axis Baby Nasal Aspirator and Ear Wax Bulb Syringe, $7, amazon.com 

Sucking snot out of my kid’s nose wasn’t my idea of fun, but it works when you have a reliable nasal aspirator like the Comfort Axis bulb. After a few suctions from each nostril, my son immediately sounded better. 

“For young children, a saline nasal spray or bulb syringe can help clear nasal passages,” said Dr. Miller. 

RELATED: The Best Baby Nasal Aspirators to Help Keep Tiny Noses Snot-Free

Vicks Children's VapoRub

Amazon

To buy: Vicks Children's VapoRub, $6, amazon.com, walgreens.com

Temporarily relieve coughing with Vicks Children’s VapoRub—which actually includes the same amount of active ingredients (camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol) as the adult VapoRub. This ointment, recommended for ages 2 and up, should only be used on top of the skin, specifically the chest and front of the neck.

Kleenex Facial Tissues with Lotion

Amazon

To buy: Kleenex Facial Tissues with Lotion, $23, amazon.com, walmart.com, walgreens.com

Stock up while you can on soft tissues before RSV congestion hits. This Kleenex four-pack features two-ply tissues with lotion for softness, aloe vera for moisture, and vitamin E for delicate skin. My son and I powered through all of these boxes in less than a week, so consider buying in bulk. Chances are, you’ll be needing them again before this winter is done!

READ NEXT: The Best OTC Allergy Medicines to Keep Symptoms at Bay 

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. CDC. Learn about respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. RSV: When it’s more than just a cold. HealthyChildren.org.

  3. CDC. Suffering from a sore throat? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  4. Botulism. HealthyChildren.org.

  5. Caring for your child’s cold or flu. HealthyChildren.org.

  6. CDC. Cold versus flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.