Autumn is well under way, and while that means the changing of the leaves, warm sweaters, and pumpkin spiced everything it also means it’s cold and flu season. While many parents opt to get the flu shot each year which helps, it doesn’t make them or their children untouchable when it comes to catching everything from a common cold to an epic stomach virus and everything in between.
The first time baby gets sick can send many parents into a tailspin, but not to worry. We’ve compiled a list of supplies that will help parents ace the winter sniffles, coughs, sneezes, and fevers like a parenting pro. Since babies have never had anything before and tend to put just about everything into their mouths, the odds of them getting sick this season are pretty good, even if they are lucky. Babies are generally expected to fall ill about 10 times in their first year alone. So, get out that shopping list and hit the stores, or a favourite online retailer, to stock the kitchen cupboards, and help mom and dad prepare for the worst... so they have everything they will need close by when baby gets their first fever during a snow storm!
20 Saline Solution
I didn’t discover saline solutions for myself until I had babies with colds. Nowadays if I feel even an inkling of a cold coming on, or when other people in the house are sick I use a neti pot and some saline solution twice a day to keep my sinuses running clean.
Babies may need you to clear out their noses with saline many times each day, but if it keeps them comfortable it’s worth it.
After all most kids can’t really blow their noses until they’re around three years old, so you’ll need to provide an assist.
19 Ingenious Ways to Keep Them Upright
For adults you can prop pillows to keep congestion at bay, but infants who lay down flat to sleep will be collecting a lot of mucus. This means that it may be more important to keep them upright when they’re awake.
Consider strapping them to you in a carrier, placing them in the car seat, or using a baby swing or bouncy chair that will keep them upright and their sinuses clear.
It's a simple way to make sure that they're upright and stay that way. For bigger kids, go ahead and prop those pillows while they’re awake or asleep!
18 Extra Diapers
We’ve all played that game of diaper roulette - whether you’re out with baby beside you and trying to push it with one (or no) diapers in your trusty bag, or you’re at home and you don’t want to run that final load of cloth diapers or go to the store because you’re tired and going to chance it. When you have a sick baby, now is not the time to be relying on chance.
Odds are you’ll be trying to keep baby extra hydrated which can mean more wet diapers.
Also, I found even mostly potty-trained toddlers had problems getting to the washroom in time when they were sick. Best bet is to have some extra diapers or pull-ups on hand just in case.
17 Hydration Supplies
When baby is sick you’ll need to pay attention to how often they’re wetting their diaper to see if they’re in danger of dehydration. The runs with illness can last up to five or ten days. The good news for bottle- or breast-fed babies is feeding often acts as a source of relaxation and comfort.
Babies over three months old can be given small doses of electrolyte drinks to help keep them hydrated in severe bouts of vomiting or the runs.
Just contact your doctor to get recommendations on brands, amounts, etc. based on the age of your child.
16 Nose un-clogger
Think about how gross you feel when your nose is all stuffed-up.
Babies have smaller sinus passages so are more likely to clog up, even if it’s a light cold.
Using saline drops or gel to thin out their mucus, before using a nose syringe or nasal aspirator will help them. They don't know how to blow their own noses yet, so even though this may seem a little icky, it's worth it. Adding this to their daily routine before every feeding and sleep, and when they seem particularly congested will help them eat and rest better, and in turn recover to their usual selves.
15 Cold Mist Humidifier
As someone who routinely gets nosebleeds in the winter from dry air, I can attest that humid air will help break down mucus and ensure a better night's sleep. Cold mist humidifiers are recommended over warm ones since warm-mist devices have been connected to scalding. These can be purchased at just about any drug store, and if you feel so inclined you can look for ones that you can add some essential oils, to refresh a sick smelling room or add further healing benefits. Be sure to read the instructions for proper use, refilling, and cleaning instructions.
14 Back Up Baby-sitter
Different child care facilities have their own rules, however most don’t want a child with a fever over 101 degrees, who has an active rash, or is likely to pass something on to other kids in the daycare. This is an added expense and frustration to parents who know their child picked up said illness at the same place where they’re currently banned from.
Have a list of family friends, stay at home parents, or grandparents who can help you out in a pinch when you can’t be home for baby, but they aren’t well enough to go to their usual daytime hangout.
13 Baby Oil For Massage
How good does a massage feel when you’re sick or stressed out? The power of healing hands, particularly if they belong to a source of comfort, like mom, can help relax a cranky baby and maybe even help them sleep longer.
Grab two fluffy bath towels and some baby oil, begin your massage at baby’s feet and work your way up to their head.
Expert the Sleep Lady recommends, “using a thumb-over- thumb movement – one thumb rubs the foot upward, taking turns with the other thumb, which moves in the same direction.” and using a “rope twist” movement on their arms and legs, and being particularly gentle with their face, where you’ll end your massage.
Getting an accurate read on how baby is doing will help you better care for them. It may be best to invest in a digital ear thermometer to get an accurate reading from babies who tend to wiggle, while standard thermometers for bum or under the arm readings can also work in a pinch. The thermometer can be a non-intrusive way to check how medicine is working while the sleep, whether to call the doctor, and when they’re ready to return to their regularly scheduled activities. Not to mention, it's good for any household to have on hand, whether there's a baby or not.
11 Doctor's Number
Sick babies can be stressful. It’s good to know when you should call the doctor and book an appointment and when you should handle things at home. If your child is less than one year old and has a fever spiking 102 degrees or higher, call the doctor. For kids older than one, contact the doctor if their fever is 104 degrees or more. Also contact the doctor if they become lethargic, if symptoms don’t improve in five days, if you notice they have severe coughing or are having trouble breathing.
10 Their Favourite Comfort Items
When I was a kid I liked to watch Peter Pan and Cinderella whenever I was sick, and I was always pleased when my mom let me do this. Figure out your child’s favourite comfort items whether it’s a binky, blanket, or favourite pair of pyjamas and be sure to have them on hand. Another source of comfort for adults and babies alike can be a nice warm bath. You can even add some specially formulated vapour bubble bath to help it soothe as well as comfort. It's important that children feel comfortable and safe, especially when mom and dad are trying to clear their sinuses and give them medicine.
9 The Right Medicine
While kids shouldn’t have cough medicine, there are other products that can help comfort them when they’re sick (think honey for infants over a year) or over-the counter fever reducers specially formulated by age. Dosage for these products are usually guided by weight and age, so read the label carefully. If you’re worried about dosage or using two products together give your doctor a call or go and talk to your local pharmacist about the best way to use the products safely. It's the sort of mistake that is easy to make, so it's important to be careful, especially while the baby is already vulnerable.
Sick kids can be extra clingy which can be a challenge, particularly when parents are sick and over-tired themselves. Take a deep breath and try to be patient as they’ll need you to comfort them and help them feel better, even though they’re not old enough to articulate this yet. This is the time when they need their mother's love more than ever. If you are feeling under the weather consider hiring someone to come in and care for baby so you can get a nap and feel more like yourself, and better able to cope with a crying baby.
7 Self-care for the Parents
Sick kids require more time on your part. Sure, they may be sleeping, but odds are you’re spending more time disinfecting surfaces they touched, laundering soiled clothes, or making midnight runs to a pharmacy that’s open to get them what they need. Be sure to take some time for you to unwind, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk, taking a nap, or reading that book you’ve been putting off reading. Just a few minutes can help you feel a whole lot better and may prevent you getting sick as well.
6 Night Light
Navigating through a nursery bleary-eyed and sleep deprived can be a lot to handle. The rule about not waking a sleeping baby quadruples when said baby is sick. A nightlight will allow you to check on them, including taking a temperature test, applying cream on a rash, or giving them a cuddle with less chance of waking them up. The last thing you need to do is trip over a toy or dump a bucket of humidifier water all over the floor because you wanted to avoid turning on the light. It'll be useful for years to come as the child grows up.
As someone who doesn’t like to be touched when I’m sick this was a hard one to wrap my head around. The number of hours I have logged on a rocking chair with a sick baby are plentiful, and at the time it was exhausting, numbing, and frustrated, but looking back on it I wouldn’t change it for a reason. Remember you are your source of baby’s comfort, and never underestimate the power of some skin to skin time with a sick baby to help them feel secure and safe.
4 BRAT: banana, rice, apple sauce, toast
If baby has been introduced to solids and is having tummy troubles it may be time to try a BRAT Diet for a few days to see if it settles things down. BRAT stands for banana, rice, apple sauce, and toast. All these plain foods can help soothe a troubled tummy and offer many of the nutrients baby needs. While this isn’t a long-term solution, it can certainly be worth a try to help get things back on track. Plus, they're all things that are easy to make or add to the grocery list, if they're not on the list already. Nutritious and simple are the two things most moms look for in their child's menu anyway.
3 Hand Sanitizer
Congratulations you are now going to become that person who has a boat-load full of hand-sanitizer. To prevent other illnesses or clean yourself up during a particularly rough diaper change these are a must for all parents – sick kid or no sick kid, because sometimes you won’t have access to a sink and soap. Recommended spots for hand sanitizer are by your front door, next to a change table, in your purse, and in your car. Pump versions by the change table are best for when you don’t want to have to touch anything until your hands are clean.
2 Good Cleaners
While no home is ever going to be spotless, particularly when you’re dealing with a sick child, it’s good to arm your home with cleaning supplies that you can use quickly and effectively. Disinfectant sprays and wipes are wonderful for frequently used surfaces like counters, sinks, toilets, door handles, and toys. Look into gentle soaps to clean products that are going to end up in your little one’s mouth, and remember a clean toilet is a much more pleasant one to throw up into.
1 Laundry Supplies
When caring for sick little ones, laundry soap and stain remover is key because sometimes your child is going to spit up that neon pink medicine you gave them 20 minutes ago all over their shirt, yours, and maybe the white living room carpet. There is nothing worse than getting a sick baby to bed, starting a load of laundry and discovering that you’re out of soap. Remember on days like this, that’s what home delivery service is for, so splurge and put your feet up until the next time baby cries for you!sic