10 of the best remedies for hay fever in toddlers to clear little noses
Get ready for the sneezing season with our essential guide to combatting allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, in toddlers with these kids hayfever medicines and treatments.
Though most of us look forward to the arrival of spring and the warm, sunny days ahead, many of us dread the return of blossoming plants, as it means that the hay fever season is back and we'll need to find kids hayfever medicines or treatments to help reduce the suffering of the youngest members of our family. A survey by Lloyds Pharmacy estimates that more than half of British people (56%) “experience allergies, with more than two in five (42 per cent) saying their seasonal allergies started earlier than usual this year.”
Hay fever usually starts around late March. This is when trees begin to release the first pollen of the year, triggered by the warmer temperatures. Throughout spring and summer, different plants and crops begin to bloom and more people are affected.
Hay fever in toddlers can be difficult to diagnose and can make them feel very sorry for themselves. It can also be very miserable for a baby if they suffer from hay fever: as well as being incredibly difficult to diagnose, they can’t tell you what’s happening and they can't take the same medication as adult. It is very rare in a baby under 1, so if you think your baby does have hayfever do see your GP to discuss it. Standard treatments for hay fever such as antihistamines are not licensed for use in children under 12 months, so for more information about this see our guide to hay fever in babies.
If you have a toddler with hay fever, check out our guide on soothing symptoms and tips on how to treat it. We've also outlined some of the best products below, designed to help with those sniffles, sore eyes and sneezes.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen and is usually a short-lived condition that is triggered by a high pollen count. You can see the pollen count each day on the weather forecast, so if you know it’s going to be high, you can take action to avoid being exposed too much.
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Hay fever sufferers are often triggered by particular types of pollen, with some affected by trees, others by flowers or farm crops. The symptoms can start as early as March and go on until October. It does not occur in the winter, which is how you can tell that that the symptoms are hay fever and not some kind of virus.
Hay fever in toddlers may be worse some years than others due to things like weather conditions. You can develop hay fever at any time, in childhood or as an adult. For more information on spotting it and preventing it, scroll to the bottom of this article.
What kind of hay fever remedies are available for toddlers?
This is a drug that helps block the effects and symptoms of an allergic reaction. It is good at relieving symptoms like sneezing, itchiness, and watery eyes. It may cause drowsiness (check the label). Always speak to a pharmacist or GP about what your child can take, the recommended dose and how often they can have it. Children's antihistamines will be different to the one-a-day pills sold for adults, for example.
These can be used to reduce eye itchiness and redness. They contain anti-inflammatory medicines.
These may be medicated to reduce sneezing or be a natural product to help prevent the dry nose that often comes with sneezing a lot.
These can be jelly or wax-like substances designed to be spread around the nostrils. They trap pollen, to prevent it getting further into the nose.
Used like a wet wipe, these can help wipe away pollen and dust when you’re out and about. Some have essential oils on them too, to aid breathing.
Antihistamine often comes in tablets for adults, but a syrup is much easier to administer to a toddler. There are some homeopathic tablets that are dissolved on the tongue that claim to help with hay fever but again, it might be hard for a toddler to manage this. It's also worth noting the NHS does not recommend homeopathy due to lack of evidence of its effectiveness.
When should you contact your GP about your toddler’s hay fever?
If your little one is really suffering from the effects of hay fever, you might want to speak to a pharmacist or your GP is they have:
- Bad symptoms and they are under two
- Symptoms that aren’t responding to medications
- Adverse effects to medication
- Worsening asthma, shortness of breath or wheezing
- Unusual symptoms or having symptoms at different times of the year such as winter. They may be allergenic to something other than pollen
Anshu Kaura, Pharmacist at Lloyds Pharmacy, advises: “It’s clear from our research that allergic reactions are not only extremely common amongst Brits but are also not mild and can often be really debilitating, making it incredibly difficult to continue with their everyday lives.
“That’s why it is so important for those who do live with allergies – especially those that flare up seasonally – to speak to a pharmacist or GP to know exactly what is causing them, so they can get the best possible support to mitigate the symptoms. Lloyds Pharmacy is here to offer advice – just drop into one of our stores where one of our pharmacists will be there to help.”
Best hay fever remedies for kids at a glance:
Best for barrier balm: HayMax Pure Allergen Barrier, from £8.49
Best for bedtime: Piriton Antihistamine Allergy Relief Syrup, £5.99
Best for using when out and about: Nuage Hayfever Relief Wipes, £1.20
Best for creating a soothing room vapour: Snufflebabe Room Vapour Oil, £8.00
Best for humidifying the nursery: Vicks Mini Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier, £55.00
Best for removing pollen from the air: Dyson Pure Cool purifying fan £349.99
Best for reducing symptoms of hay fever: Benadryl Allergy £5.59
Best for natural method to unblock little noses: Weleda Rhinodoron Nasal Spray £10.50
Best for relief for all kinds of allergens: Boots Children’s Allergy Relief Antihistamine £3.99
Best for essential oils to help clear blocked noses and sinuses: Breaze Vapour Oil, Pillowcase and Barrier Balm £23.75
Here's our pick of the best products to help ease the symptoms for your toddler with hay fever:
1. HayMax Pure Allergen Barrier, from £8.49
– Best for a barrier balm
Suitable from: birth
This natural balm made from organic beeswax and sunflower seed oil creates a barrier around the child’s nose, trapping pollen in it and preventing it from going up into the nose. It’s applied with the tip of your finger, is non-drowsy and free from any drugs. It is suitable for children and is one of the easiest hay fever remedies to use.
Home tester, Sarah-Jane, who used it with her daughter who suffers from hay fever, commented that "it definitely made a difference."
2. Piriton Antihistamine Allergy Relief Syrup, £5.99
– Best for bedtime
Suitable from: one year and over
Piriton is something of a household name when it comes to allergy and hay fever products, and this syrup is designed to offer fast relief from symptoms for little ones over the age of one. It contains the antihistamine chlorphenamine maleate, and most toddlers will need only 2 small spoonfuls a day. Before giving your child an antihistamine, speak to your GP first and confirm the diagnosis and the dose.
It may cause drowsiness, so our home testers like to use it at night time just before their kids go to sleep. Tester Hayley, said, "My son has allergies year-round and a spoonful of this before bed works wonders, particularly in pollen season."
3. Nuage Hayfever Relief Wipes, £1
– Best for using when out and about
Suitable from: birth
These handy wipes are designed to trap and remove pollen from your little one’s hands and face before it can take effect. Made using peppermint and tea tree oil, the essential oils help your child to breathe if they have got a blocked nose thanks to the misery of allergies.
The wipes come highly recommended by our home testers, with mum Jennifer calling them a "life saver". The resealable pack is also the perfect size for popping in your bag for a day out, in case symptoms appear unexpectedly.
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4. Snufflebabe Room Vapour Oil, £7
– Best for a stuffy nose
Suitable from: birth
This vapour oil is designed to help your baby sleep if they’re suffering from a blocked nose, which hay fever can often cause. It’s suitable from birth and contains a blend of lemon, pine and tea tree essential oils, which do not only have decongestant properties but are naturally antibacterial too. The scent can be used year-round to provide a calming bedroom environment.
Parent tester Gemma says, "this definitely helps my toddler when he's feeling sniffly, and I love it for the rest of the family too."
You simply add a few drops to a bowl of warm water or to a damp cloth placed over a radiator and place it in your child’s room while they sleep (keep it away from their sleeping space). You can also buy the Snufflebabe inhaler dummy to offer an even more targeted dose of breath-easy vapour, or add it to a humidifier that's safe for use with essential oils.
5. Vicks Mini Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier, £55.00
– Best for adding moisture
Suitable from: birth
This humidifier is somewhat of an investment purchase that could prove useful if your child's hay fever symptoms are worse during the night, and it can also be used for winter coughs and colds too.
As a humidifier, it releases a cool water mist that helps alleviate itchy eyes and throats by adding moisture into the air. Used with the VapoPads (sold separately) it releases menthol and eucalyptus essential oils that can also help clear blocked little noses.
Parent tester Leonna found it useful for her son, whose hay fever was particularly bad at bedtime: "It honestly makes such a difference to the air quality - it stops his coughing, itchy eyes and dryness overnight. If it broke tomorrow, I wouldn't think twice about repurchasing." It is a very quiet machine, so won’t disturb your baby’s sleep and it only emits cold vapour, which means there is no risk of burns and scalds. The nozzle is adjustable, and you can also adjust the humidity level between 40 to 60 per cent.
6. Dyson Pure Cool purifying fan, £349.99
– Best for removing pollen from the air
Suitable from: birth
Though this purifying fan comes with a hefty price tag, it does manage a couple of functions very efficiently; not only does it cool the air in your baby’s nursery – which is great if warm weather is impacting on their sleep – but it also removes pollen and other allergens from the air as well, so they can get a better night's sleep.
Its 360 degree filtration system uses activated carbon to take all odours, gases, allergens, pet dander and dust out of the air using a HEPA filter. Gradually, it can clean the air in the whole room.
You can have it sitting as a static unit or it can oscillate to project the cleaned air around the room. It’s simple to use and easy to clean, and because it works with a remote control you can turn it on and off from the nursery door without disturbing your child.
7. Benadryl Allergy Oral Solution, £5.59
– Best for older children
Suitable from: two years
This liquid remedy helps relieve the symptoms of hay fever such as sneezing and itchy eyes and throat and it can be used from the age of two years, so it's great for older toddlers and preschoolers.
It uses the active ingredient Cetirizine and does not cause drowsiness, unlike some medicines. It can also be used to treat other allergies such as those to pets and dust mites, plus skin allergies like hives.
8. Weleda Rhinodoron Nasal Spray, £10.49
– Best for a nasal spray
Suitable from: birth
One of the most distressing symptoms of hay fever and allergies in toddlers can be a crusty, dry and blocked nose, which can make both breathing and drinking difficult.
This all-natural nasal spray can help relieve this. It's made from an isotonic salt solution that matches the body’s sodium and potassium balance, together with Aloe Vera gel. The result is an unblocked nose that is soothed and comforted by the gel – though your little one may find it a little unpleasant to have it squirted up their nose.
Although it's quite pricey given its size, it can be used for winter colds too and it’s great for little ones who can’t blow their own noses.
9. Boots Children’s Allergy Relief Antihistamine, £3.99
– Best budget buy
Suitable from: age 1
This allergy remedy containing Chlorphenamine maleate works for lots of different allergies and reactions, from hay fever to food allergies, insect bites to pet and dander reactions. It reduces itching and redness of the skin and the swellings associated with allergies, so it’s a great product to have in your medicine cabinet at all times.
If you're on a tight budget, this is an affordable buy that's likely to offer at least some relief to your toddler if they're suffering from hay fever symptoms. Plus it's easy to administer, as you offer it to your child in a small syringe, similar to baby Calpol or Nurofen.
Available from: Boots
10. Breaze Vapour Oil, Pillowcase and Barrier Balm, £23.75
– Best for a complete set
Suitable from: two years
This is an ingenious solution that offers several products that you can buy separately or as a pack. This bundle contains decongestant vapour oil to put on a hanky, in the bath or in a diffuser, a beeswax barrier balm to put around your little one’s nose plus a motion-sensitive pillowcase that is infused with more essential oil.
It’s 100 per cent natural and can be used alongside other hay fever remedies to provide further relief. The pillowcase is treated with millions of microcapsules of vapour oil and the scent is released as your child moves. They are designed for single use and need replacing after two weeks, but they're fully biodegradable and compostable, and can be reused for all kinds of purposes.
Available from: Breaze Health
How did we choose our 10 of the Best?
When choosing and testing these hayfever products we considered efficacy, availability, value for money and suitability.
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don't just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
What are the symptoms of hay fever in toddlers?
- Itching, red, streaming eyes
- Sneezing and coughing
- Tiredness and problems sleeping due to the symptoms
- A blocked nose and sinuses
- Itching of the throat and nose
- Headache and earache
If your toddler also has asthma, they might also:
- Have a tight chest
- be short of breath
- Have a cough or a wheeze
Is it a cold, a virus or hay fever?
It is notoriously difficult to diagnose health conditions in small children but generally speaking, a cold or virus will last a week or two and then go away, whereas hay fever can last several weeks.
How can you help avoid hay fever in toddlers?
Prevention is always better than cure, so try these simple methods to help protect your little one from the worst effects of hay fever:
- Close windows and doors so that pollen doesn’t blow in
- Buy some sunglasses for your child to prevent pollen blowing into the eyes. Make sure they have safe lenses and are UV protective
- Put a small amount of petroleum jelly or a pollen blocker around your child’s nostrils – this traps pollen, preventing it from being breathed in
- When your child has been outdoors, wash their hair, hands and face or put them in the bath and then put them into clean clothes
- Dry your child’s clothes indoors to prevent their having pollen on them
- When your child does play outside, avoid fields, grasslands and large gardens
- Consider buying an air filtration unit
- Wash their hands frequently and wipes hands and faces with anti-hay fever wipes
- Avoid spending too much time outdoors
- Avoid freshly mown grass and fresh flowers
- Clean your home regularly – look for a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and use a damp cloth to dust
Sally J. Hall has been a parenting and health journalist for over 20 years. She is a former Consumer Editor of Parenting & Birth magazine and former Editor of both Bounty (where she launched the Bounty Baby Product Guide) and Emma’s Diary, as well as contributing to many other parenting magazines and websites.
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