As a mom, there’s nothing that breaks your heart more than seeing your children in pain. During cold and flu season, I know that the last thing moms want to feel is unprepared if their baby (or babies) gets sick. Because if you didn’t know, the average cold can last up to 10 days . . . And that’s not fun for anyone involved!
First (of course), consult with your child’s pediatrician to rule out that it could be anything more serious. Once you’ve called or met with your doctor and he or she has confirmed that it is a cold, the only thing you can do is comfort your baby, treat the symptoms, and be patient as it runs its course. I know . . . it’s miserable. That’s why I am sharing some extra tips on preparing for and treating your baby’s cold symptoms to make it easier for you and your baby.
*Disclaimer: I am not a pediatrician, so this is not meant to be medical advice. I am a postpartum doula and (and a mom of two) have worked with over 300 families over the years with their newborns. I am sharing my personal experience helping families after their little ones are diagnosed with a cold.
Wash Your Hands
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 80% of all infectious diseases are transmitted through our hands.1 Ensure that you, your family, and anyone else handling your baby are washing their hands and keeping them clean. Also, if your child is grabbing things and putting them in his/her mouth, I would be aware of what’s going in their mouth. (I know that can be not easy to do, but try to at your best ability.) Also, keep their hands clean by washing and wiping their hands.
Recognize the Symptoms
Cold symptoms usually begin with a sore throat, then a runny nose, and congestion. It can be difficult to tell if your baby has a sore throat, but they will usually cough more frequently with a sore throat and be fussier than usual. You may begin to notice that your baby has a clear, runny discharge from his/her nose. With time it can become thick and discolored. (This is normal with a cold.) Your baby will also probably have a fever with these symptoms. These are all indications that your baby might have a cold and that you should consult with your baby’s doctor.
Once your doctor has confirmed that your baby has a cold, here are a few things that you can do to help.
Get a Humidifier
Have a cool-mist humidifier in your baby’s room while your baby is sleeping. It is beneficial when treating a cold. I highly recommend it because the moisture the humidifier releases helps your baby breathe easier by softening the mucus in his/her nose and chest. Turn it on during each nap and at night when your baby goes to sleep to help them sleep better and breathe easier. My favorite humidifiers are the ones from Crane. Their cute designs and great quality make it a family favorite.
NOTE: Be sure to wash and dry your humidifier thoroughly to prevent contamination from bacteria and mold. It is recommended that you rinse your humidifier once per day and thoroughly clean your humidifier at least once per week.
If you don’t have a humidifier and need instant relief, give your baby a warm bath or sit with him/her in the bathroom while the shower runs for about 15-minutes. The steam will also help them breathe a little easier.
Breastfeed / Keep Them Hydrated
When battling a cold, no matter what age your child is, staying hydrated is essential. Encourage your baby to drink plenty of fluids — that means: try to breastfeed more often or give your baby a few more bottles while your baby is sick. A baby will usually want to nurse or take a bottle more frequently when sick because that’s what he/she needs for comfort.
If you caught what your baby has or are afraid to pass on a cold to your baby, the antibodies that your body produces will pass on through your breast milk, which will help protect your baby and make him/her feel better faster.
NOTE: Be sure to watch for signs of dehydration. Those are:
- no wet diapers within 10-12 hours
- eyes and fontanels (the soft spots on his/her head) appear sunken in
- less elasticity in the skin
- dry mouth
- decrease or absence of tears
- irritable, tired, and thirsty
If you see these symptoms, call your pediatrician and (more than likely by your pediatrician’s request) head to the hospital for IV fluids.
Saline Drops & NoseFrida
Did you know that babies don’t master breathing through their mouths until they are 4 to 5 months old? Imagine if they were to have a cold, how difficult it would be for them to breathe through their nose! Even after 4 to 5 months, it’s difficult for any baby to sleep soundly when congested. Babies also don’t have the ability to blow their noses for relief, so we have to help with the stuffiness. I personally recommend using the NoseFrida and saline spray (which comes in the NoseFrida Kit package) to help when your baby is congested.
First, lay your child down and put a few saline drops (or one spray) into each nostril. Wait about a minute, then use the NoseFrida to suck out the secretions. (Yes, your child will not like either of these, but it will moisten the mucus and make it much easier for you to remove more from their stuffed nose and help your baby breathe. That ultimately will make baby happy. Every parent swears by it!) I suggest doing this before your baby goes to sleep and before meals so your baby can breathe and nurse.Buy NoseFrida Kit Package
Soothe His/Her Nose
With a runny nose, you will be wiping your baby’s nose quite often. Doing this over and over with a tissue can really irritate his/her delicate skin. I recommend using a warm, wet washcloth to help prevent this irritation, or you can use Boogie Wipes to soothe his/her sensitive skin. The natural saline tissue dissolves mucus, while the aloe and chamomile soothe their sensitive little noses.Buy Boogie Wipes
Elevate the Head
If your baby is having trouble sleeping, I suggest elevating the head of his/her crib (or bed) to help him/her sleep at a slight incline. This can help with drainage and relieve your baby’s postnasal drip. You can do this by placing a couple of towels or books under the head of the mattress so that the baby’s head is higher than his/her body.
NOTE: Never use pillows under your baby to prop up your baby since they’re suffocation hazards. Also, do NOT prop up the whole crib or bassinet since there is a possibility it could tip over.
Thermometer & Medication
Once you have checked your baby’s temperature and have confirmed that your baby does have a fever, you can treat mild fevers with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or Baby Tylenol.
NOTE: Only use medication after you have consulted with your baby’s pediatrician and a pharmacist. You want to make sure that you will be using the correct medication and giving the correct dosage for your child’s age. So as always, consult your doctor first.
I recommend taking your baby’s temperature regularly. The Fridababy FeverFrida iThermometer can help with that since it checks your baby’s temperature every four seconds without waking him or her. It will alert your smartphone (via Bluetooth) when his/her temp goes above a predetermined threshold and continuously stores data for pediatrician visits and medicine dose reminders.Buy FeverFrida iThermometer
The soothing eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender in Baby Vicks help calm and soothe your baby. Rub this on your baby’s feet (put their socks on over it) and chest before naps and before they go to bed for the night.Buy Baby Vicks Now
Sleeping is tough when little ones are sick, but do your best to make sure he/she gets as much rest as possible. Plenty of rest and good sleep will make them feel much better faster.
Patience is really key. All you can do is monitor and cuddle your baby while waiting it out. But if you think something is not right, never hesitate to call your pediatrician’s office with questions. Trust your gut. You know your baby better than anyone else. These tips should help make the process a little easier for you and your baby.