As a mother, there’s nothing harder than watching your kids suffer. And when your baby has his or her first cold, it can be downright painful to see them not feeling well. All you want to do is to soothe his pain and make him as comfortable as possible. Anything to give them relief. However, most children’s cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children under six years of age. Hence you need to be careful lest you overdose them. Consulting a medic is the right thing to do in this case.
Once you’ve called (or met) with your doctor, and you’ve ruled out anything more serious than a cold, the only thing you can do for your baby is try to make him or her as comfortable as possible while the cold runs its course. It can be excruciating to see your child uncomfortable, but these tips will help you both survive.
If baby is having trouble sleeping, elevate the head of his bed a bit. Usually a few books under the mattress will do the trick.
If your child sleeps in a crib, place a couple of towels or a slim pillow underneath the head of the mattress on the crib springs. Don’t try to raise the legs of the crib because this could make the crib unstable.
If your child sleeps in a big bed, an extra pillow under her head might do the trick. But if she’s at all squirmy while she sleeps, it’s safer to raise the head of the bed by sliding towels or a pillow underneath the mattress. This also creates a more gradual, comfortable slope than extra pillows.
Try to squeeze a few extra bottles or nursing sessions in while your baby is sick. The extra feedings will help her stay hydrated and hopefully send that cold on its way faster.
Drinking plenty of fluids prevents dehydration, thins your child’s nasal secretions, and flushes them out.
What you need:
Breast milk, formula, water, or other fluids that your child enjoys drinking
What to do:
For babies younger than 12 months, simply breastfeeding or bottle-feeding her more frequently is the best way to keep her well hydrated. For older children, plain water is great, but your child might not find it very appealing. You can also offer fruit smoothies made from 100 percent juice.
Stick to breast milk or formula for babies younger than 6 months unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Babies that young don’t need water, and too much could actually be harmful.
- Soothe that runny, crusty nose
No more tissues. No more wet washcloths. When your baby is sick, reach for baby ipes to soothe his sensitive skin.
- Try Saline
Natural saline spray will help soothe your baby’s congestion. When kids are too young to blow their nose well, saline drops or a bulb syringe can clear his nose. Using a bulb syringe works best for young babies, especially if a stuffy nose interferes with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. (Try using it about 15 minutes beforehand.) But if your older child doesn’t mind the procedure, there’s no reason not to do it.
What you need:
- A rubber bulb syringe
- Saline (saltwater) solution, either store-bought or homemade
Saline nose drops – or spray for children 2 and older – are available at pharmacies without a prescription.
What to do:
- Tip your child’s head back or lay him on his back with a rolled-up towel supporting his head.
- Squeeze two or three drops of saline solution into each nostril to thin and loosen the mucus. Try to keep his head still afterward for about 30 seconds (or less for a baby).
- Squeeze the bulb of the syringe, then gently insert the rubber tip into his nostril. Some doctors recommend also gently closing off the other nostril with your finger to get better suction from the bulb syringe.
- Slowly release the bulb to collect mucus and saline solution.
- Remove the syringe and squeeze the bulb to expel the mucus into a tissue.
- Wipe the syringe and repeat with the other nostril.
- Repeat if necessary.
- Don’t suction your child’s nose more than a few times a day or you might irritate its lining. And don’t use the saline drops for more than four days in a row because they can dry out his nose over time, making things worse.
- You can also use the bulb syringe without saline to remove mucus. Squeeze the bulb to force out air, gently insert the tip in his nostril, and slowly let the air out of the bulb to draw in mucus. Remove the bulb and squeeze any mucus onto a tissue.
- If your baby gets really upset when you use the syringe, try saline drops instead. Squirt a small amount into his nose, then gently swipe his lower nostrils with a cotton swab. Be careful not to insert the swab inside his nostrils.
Don’t use nasal decongestant sprays on your baby or young child. Doctors don’t recommend them for children younger than 6 and usually don’t advise them for older kids either. Nasal sprays aren’t effective and can cause a rebound effect, making congestion worse in the long run.
- Steam (all ages)
How this helps:
Breathing moist air helps loosen the mucus in the nasal passages. A warm bath has the added benefit of relaxing your child.
What you need:
A humidifier, cool-mist vaporizer, or steamy bathroom
What to do:
- Use a humidifier or a cool-mist vaporizer in your child’s bedroom when she’s sleeping, resting, or playing in the room.
- Give your child a warm bath in a steamy bathroom. Let a hot shower run for a few minutes before getting the tub ready. Let her play in the bath as long as she likes (supervised, of course, unless she’s old enough to be just within earshot).
- If it’s not a convenient time for a bath, simply turn on the hot water in the tub or shower, close the bathroom door, block any gap under the door with a towel, and sit in the steamy room with your child for about 15 minutes. (Bring a few books.)
Thoroughly clean and dry your humidifier every day. Mold and bacteria can accumulate inside it, and these can then spray into the air when you run the humidifier.
WAYS TO HELP PREVENT COLDS AND FLUS
Colds and flus are brought on by viruses. The best way to avoid these viruses is to prevent your family from coming into contact with them in the first place, and from spreading them to each other.
It’s important that your entire family follow these simple rules:
- Avoid contact with people who are sick. If you work outside the home or if your children go to school or daycare, this may be difficult to do; however, you can ask people to not visit your home if they have a cold or flu.
- Wash your hand regularly.
- To prevent germs and viruses from spreading or entering your system (or someone else’s), wash up after you shake hands with someone who is sick, take out the garbage, pet animals, change a diaper or use the bathroom. Also wash your hands after you blow your nose or sneeze or cough into your hands. Wash your hands before you eat or prepare a meal or snack, treat a wound or put in contact lenses.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Teach your children that this is a common way for a virus to enter your body from your hands.
- Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. If you don’t have a tissue within reach, sneeze or cough into your folded elbow rather than on your hands.
- When someone in your household is sick:
- Use separate towels
- Use separate drinking cups and utensils
- Ensure dishes are washed well with soap in hot water.