Child lies in bed and is blowing her nose.

How to tell if its Allergies or a Cold

Spring and summer bring so many wonderful things, sunshine, warmer weather, beautiful flowers, and the promise of fun in the sun! But for many of us and our kiddos, it can also signal the start of allergy season. If your child has not been diagnosed with seasonal allergies before, it can also be confusing for parents to determine whether they are experiencing a cold or allergies. This is understandable since many of the symptoms overlap! Unfortunately, even though allergies are relatively common, there are a lot of misconceptions! Read on for more information about allergies and helpful ways to determine whether your child’s symptoms are due to allergies or a cold.

What are seasonal allergies?

Allergies develop when the immune system has an overreaction to something. Symptoms develop due to the release of histamine from specialized immune cells. There are many different types of allergies, including allergies to foods, plants, dust, pets, specific materials, etc. Seasonal allergies usually refer to a reaction to various plants, trees, or pollen. Some peak in spring, others in summer/early fall. Indoor allergies refer to allergies to dust, pet dander, etc.

What are the symptoms?

Common seasonal allergy symptoms include watery, itchy eyes, stuffy or runny nose, and sneezing. That being said, other symptoms can occur as well. There is overlap between allergy and cold symptoms with some key differences. The table below is a helpful comparison between cold and allergy symptoms.

How old is your child?

Seasonal allergy symptoms usually start at the earliest between the ages of three and five years. It is not common for symptoms to occur before two years of age since allergies require exposure and sensitization to these seasonal triggers in order to develop an allergy to them. Indoor allergies can start younger, such as at age one. Allergies can also develop in older childhood or adulthood and vary each season and in different regions.


In what settings do symptoms get worse?

If your child suddenly develops a runny nose and sneezing, it can often be tricky to tell whether it is a cold or allergies. However, if symptoms aren’t as significant in the morning and then flare up when playing outside, particularly in areas with lots of grass, flowers, trees, and pollen, that is more indicative of seasonal allergies. Cold symptoms are often worse while lying down and first thing in the morning and evening.

Children running through a field of blossoming trees with parents walking behind them.


How long do the symptoms last?

Cold symptoms typically peak between 3 and 5 days and usually resolve in 7-10 days. Depending on the trigger, seasonal allergy symptoms will wax and wane over a few weeks to months.

Do other family members have allergies?

Often, a family history of certain allergies can increase the risk of children developing them.

So how can you know for sure?

The best way to determine whether your child has seasonal allergies is to talk with their pediatrician. In some cases, they may recommend allergy testing or a trial of an antihistamine.

How are allergies treated?

In most cases, seasonal and indoor allergies can be treated with an over-the-counter antihistamine. One of the better-known antihistamines is Diphenhydramine (Benadryl.) However, this is not the best choice for children as it has side effects like drowsiness and does not have a long duration of action. Talk with your pediatrician about better options for kids, such as loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra), or cetirizine (Zyrtec). Antihistamines work better if used before symptoms flare up rather than after. So if it is allergy season and your child has allergies, start their medications and give them consistently as directed until peak season has ended. Weather reports often include information about mold and pollen counts during allergy seasons. Depending on symptoms, your healthcare provider may also recommend eye drops and/or a nasal spray like fluticasone (flonase.) Other things that can help are avoiding triggers if they are known, keeping windows and doors shut when at home, showering, or bathing your child after playing outside. In more severe cases or when symptoms do not improve with the methods mentioned above, your doctor may recommend immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots.

Child smiles sitting on a patient exam table with a nurse and mother.

We hope this helps clear up some of the confusion around allergies! Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy Spring and Summer!

More great resources to check out below:

American Academy of Allergies Asthma and Immunology

Seasonal Allergies in Children – AAP


And if it turns out your little one has a cold, check out our home remedies here.


Child with red hair hides under white blanket with one eye peeking out.

Tips for Managing Sunday Scaries with kids

We’ve all been there, you enjoy a lovely weekend as a family, and then that dreaded sinking feeling rolls in on Sunday as you mentally prepare for the week ahead. This feeling has been affectionately termed “Sunday Scaries.” Monday mornings can feel super stressful for parents, especially with young kids and all that goes into getting them ready for the day. In addition, kids may have their own anxieties about Mondays resulting from school dread or being separated from you during the weekdays, so make sure to address their worries as well. Here are some tips to hopefully ease some of that stress and make the week go a little smoother for everyone!

Create a weekly ritual.

A straightforward strategy to help with the mindset surrounding Sunday scaries and the potential stress about the week ahead is to create some small rituals to mark the end of the week and the start of the next. These can be easy and fun, but consistency provides a sense of stability and things to look forward to. Some examples are Friday night pizza and a movie, Sunday pancake breakfast, Sunday afternoon walk, etc. Little rituals and routines are a fun way to incorporate more family time and connection and give structure to what can feel like entirely chaotic weeks with kids, school, activities, work schedules, etc. Don’t forget the importance of getting a good night sleep especially at the start of the week. Try not to let sleep schedules veer too far off during the weekend and make it a routing for sunday evenings to be a time to relax, get organized and get to bed early! Read more tips to promote better sleep here.

Talk about the day and week ahead.

I’m a big fan of mental rehearsals for myself and young kids, especially around things that can cause stress or worry. Thinking and talking about what to expect eases uncertainty and helps you and the kids feel prepared. When to do this depends on what works best for your family. I find the dinner table and bedtime to be natural times to talk about what is coming up. Kids always seem to have a lot to say at bedtime as they process and unwind from the day. As much as we may want to rush through to get to our alone time, it is an excellent opportunity to have their captive attention. Talk out loud about what the next day will look like regarding anything different about their morning routine (ie, pack something for show and tell, etc.), who is doing drop off and pick up, what after-school activities are planned, etc. Sunday nights, you may also want to do an overview of what the week holds as far as any out-of-the-ordinary things like doctor’s appointments, dinner plans, birthday parties, etc. Not only will it help everyone be on the same page, but it will provide an opportunity to manage any logistical challenges that may have been overlooked or address any worries or questions the kids may have about the agenda.

Keep the door open for kids to talk about their worries.

Kids get Sunday scaries too, which can center around school dread or peer problems. Always ask kids how things are going and if anything worries them about school. If you start to see school fear occurring repeatedly, make sure to ask about bullying and let your child know it is safe to tell you anything. Although a day off here and there when kids have a hard time is not bad, it’s important not to completely give in to school-avoidant behavior, as that can make the anxiety surrounding going back build even more. Instead, validate their feelings, address any bullying issues or learning difficulties with teachers and school administration, and try to keep them in their routine. For more tips on addressing Sunday scaries and school anxiety for kids, check out this article in Psychology today. 

Consider a family calendar.

In certain seasons of life, especially if there are multiple kids with multiple activities, a visual aid of the schedule can help keep everyone organized and on the same page. This can also help somewhat with reducing the mental load of the primary parent since everyone can reference and update the family calendar, and it is not all kept in one person’s head. You can get creative with little pictures on the calendar for young pre-reading kids to let them know what is on the schedule that day, like a soccer ball for practice, a water drop for swim lessons, etc. Encourage them to check the calendar when they ask you about the agenda, and they can even help add things as they come up. You may choose to use a magnetic calendar on the fridge, a large desk calendar, or simply a whiteboard where you write out the big to-dos for the week. Be as detailed or big-picture as you choose. Find a system you like that is not too time-consuming to implement and go with it. 

Get organized and prepare ahead of time.

I will start this with the disclaimer that prepping things for the day or week ahead of time is immensely helpful to combat Sunday scaries, but it may not be possible 100% of the time! This type of organization does not come naturally to me, but I see the benefit and am improving over time. So try to get into a prepping routine and do it when you can, but it is not all or nothing. Even taking some stuff off the list for the morning rush will be helpful. 

  • Meals
    • One challenge about adulting and parenting that I feel you don’t hear enough about until you’re in it is having to think of what you and the family should eat every meal, every day! It’s exhausting! At a minimum, prepping school lunches and breakfast the day before can make things much less hectic. If you are someone who can plan out every meal for the whole week, even better! However, just coming up with a simple system for lunches where you have all of the components (fruit, protein, sandwich stuff, snack, etc.) in the same easy-to-grab places to make assembling them easier goes a long way. A rotation of quick nutritious breakfasts also simplifies things. I love to make big batches of healthy pancakes on the weekend and freeze them to use for breakfast during the week. Pop them in the toaster, and you have an easy yummy breakfast. 
  • Backpacks
    • Try to pack younger kids’ bags the night before. If you live somewhere like we do with seasons, make sure you have all the necessary layers and gear they may need ready to go. We’ve all had those mornings where you realize the kids’ snow pants and mittens are soaked from the day before, and now you are scrambling to find backups. Older kids can take this task on as one of their responsibilities, with perhaps a post-check by you for quality control.
  • Clothes
    • Picking out clothes the night before is also a biggy as far as reducing the amount of time and energy needed to get kids ready in the morning. Letting toddlers and young kids help choose outfits gives them a sense of empowerment. Some children may prefer to pick out and dress themselves in the morning, and that is great! I love letting kids express themselves through their clothing choices as long as they can easily play in them and are school and weather appropriate. My five-year-old loves this little taste of independence. I just make sure that her drawers are organized so she knows where each category of clothing item is. It is not neat by any means, but she can find what she wants independently. 

Give yourself more time than you think you need.

Without fail, the days you need to be on time will be the ones the universe throws a wrench in the morning. Mondays tend to be worse since everyone has had a couple of days to be out of the routine. Unfortunately, you can’t always predict when a big spill will happen, requiring a last-minute outfit change, or your preschooler will have a lengthy tantrum about having to wear their snowboots on a winter day or some other injustice. The best you can do is give yourself a buffer and allow extra time. Worst case, you’ll have more time than you need and maybe even have time to finish that coffee you made before it is cold. On other days it may be just the extra few minutes you need to do damage control and still make it to drop off on time. 

Keep things in perspective.

I don’t know about you, but one lesson I continue to learn in parenting is the value of loosening up control and letting go of the pursuit of perfection. Some days, you’ll be the parent who brings your kid to school late with their hair uncombed. Some days you’ll forget their mittens, and they’ll need to borrow from the school stash. The truth is you are human. These small things do not make you any less awesome of a parent and are just not a big deal in the long run. I find this mindset shift very helpful when I’m starting to stress about being late, which can manifest as me being more irritable and snappy with the kids. I try to remind myself we’re all doing our best and that being a few minutes late does not mean the world will end. This helps bring me back to a calm state and have a bit more patience. 

Progress over Perfection.

This is another lesson I’m continuously learning, and I feel like every parent needs this reminder. You are doing a great job! Working toward things that will make life easier and only getting some of it right is still valuable and still progress. I do not use all of these techniques all of the time. The idea is to choose what strategies work for your family and make things easier, not more work. So much of the Sunday scaries feeling can come down to the pressure we feel for the week to go smoothly and get everything done. Using these tools will help, but some days will just be messy, and that’s ok! Everyone will make it through regardless, and you may even laugh about it later! Try to do your best, don’t beat yourself up, and you’ll get a chance to try to do better the next day. 


Read more about how to start the school year off with some good strategies in place here. Let us know what strategies you try and which are the most helpful! Do you have any useful tricks we forgot?



Family relaxing in bed with small dog

Stomach Bug Survival tips

There is no way around it; Stomach bugs are just plain nasty. They are no fun to have and no fun to clean up. Combining the ick of caring for and cleaning up after a child who has a stomach bug with the dread of knowing there is a good chance it will spread through the whole house is enough to cause some serious parental anxiety. Although we can’t take the ick away, here is some basic info about stomach bugs and our top 5 tips to survive the mess and help your little one feel better faster!

Stomach bugs or gastroenteritis, which is the medical term, are typically caused by viruses and cause vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes fever. Most of the time, vomiting starts first and lasts 24-48 hours. Diarrhea usually follows and can last from a few days to a couple of weeks. These viruses are contagious, so handwashing and sanitizing surfaces are key. Most of the time, symptoms can be managed at home, but if vomiting is severe and leads to dehydration or lasts more than 48 hours, you should consult your pediatrician. Check out our post on preventing dehydration in kids here for more tips.


Easier said than done, but keeping your little one hydrated is the key to getting them safely through a stomach bug. Believe it or not, pediatricians do not worry about a child not eating for a few days. They’ll be fine without food for longer than you’d think, but not drinking can lead to life-threatening dehydration. Offer small amounts of clear liquids like Pedialyte or diluted juice (1:1 with water) frequently and watch for signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, dry lips, mouth, decreased tears, fatigue.) Our secret weapon against dehydration is popsicles! They are tasty, and kids like them. Plus, when kids feel thirsty and want to drink too quickly, it can lead to more vomiting. Popsicles naturally slow them down and pace their intake. Pedialyte even makes popsicles with the same electrolyte solution as their drinks. And remember, dehydration can be dangerous, especially for very young children, so if you cannot get your child to drink or they are losing fluids too quickly to keep up with, seek help from your healthcare provider.

Mess management!

A lot of the stress around stomach bugs revolves around the icky mess factor and contagiousness. Does anyone else find cleaning up chunks of puke totally gag-inducing? For young kids, use layers of easy-to-wash fabrics to help with clean up. Layer towels around where they are resting or sleeping, peel off layers and toss them in the wash when dirty. Disposable puppy pads also work great for this or a combination of both! Older kids might be able to aim and use a bucket more effectively, but having towels around the area is still a good idea to catch misses. Have you heard of the glow stick trick? I saw someone share this a while back on social media and thought it was genius. For older kids who can use a bucket, place it next to their bed with a glow stick inside it at night so they can have an easier time seeing it and aiming in the dark!

Minimize spread!

The viruses that cause stomach bugs are notoriously contagious, and even a few viral particles can cause illness. This is why sanitizing well is crucial when cleaning up to avoid spread. Use the hot water wash/sanitize cycle in the wash and bleach for white fabrics. Use a diluted bleach solution for surfaces to most effectively kill the viruses that cause gastroenteritis. Don’t forget to clean with the area well ventilated and preferably distanced from kiddos when using bleach solutions. For more information on how to safely disinfect with bleach read more here. Always wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up, when in close contact with sick family members, or when changing a sick little one’s diaper.


Most kids will not need medication for a stomach bug. However, you may opt to give fever reducers (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) if they have a high fever or belly pain. Fever can make them sleepy and uncomfortable, less interested in drinking, and can lead to further dehydration. Occasionally if a child has more severe vomiting (challenging to keep up with intake to maintain hydration), their doctor may prescribe an antinausea medication. We don’t typically treat viral diarrhea in kids. Probiotics may be helpful as they recover so consider an over the counter probiotic or increasing their intake of fermented foods like low sugar yogurt with live cultures.

When to let them eat:

You can often follow your child’s lead regarding whether they are ready to eat. However, as a rule of thumb, avoid reintroducing foods until they are tolerating clear liquids and going at least 2 hours between episodes of vomiting. Then you can let them eat what they want but help them with pacing. They should eat small amounts slowly and then wait to ensure it is tolerated. You don’t have to limit them to a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce, toast). Studies have shown it does not speed up recovery. Instead, avoid highly acidic, spicy, or greasy foods and, otherwise, follow their lead. Some individuals will have transient lactose intolerance after an episode of gastroenteritis due to inflammation impacting the intestinal lining, where the enzyme that digests lactose functions. When this happens, it can cause belly pain and worsen diarrhea. In this case, you may need to eliminate or limit dairy until they fully recover.

Stomach bugs are a real drag, but fortunately, they are usually short-lasting, and kids usually recover quickly! Hopefully, these tips can help you get through a little easier. So try to enjoy the extra cuddles and know you’re not alone. One more hack, if the smells get to you, a dab of peppermint oil under the nose might help if you get the gags cleaning up barf messes!