There are few things more heartbreaking than watching your infant struggle with their first cold or flu. There is not a whole lot you can do to help them, as you aren't able to administer medication in the early days. This can often leave parents feeling very frustrated and worried about their little one, as they struggle to breathe through stuffed noses, cough relentlessly, and just feel miserable in general.
Often, there is also a worry of dehydration and lack of nourishment, as eating is often challenging for babies when they're sick. The main thing parents can do is offer comfort and lots of additional TLC as their baby works through the cold. There are also a few things that are essential to have around the house, to help you care for your baby when they get their first cold or flu.
10 A humidifier
Keeping the air circulating in your baby's room is important, and having some moisture in that air is equally important. Often, babies will get a cold in the winter time when the weather is much cooler. Therefore, the furnace is often running as well, which can dry out the air and cause little noses to be even more clogged and uncomfortable.
Keeping a humidifier going can help to alleviate that problem. It will also help to add moisture to chapped lips (caused from having to breathe through their mouths due to a stuffy nose) and dry skin. The warm, moist air also helps to thin out nasal secretions, which can help to unclog their nose and help them to breathe a little easier.
9 Nasal Drops
Nasal drops are simply a saline solution that can be sprayed gently into your baby's nose to help break down the congestion and to help them breathe easier. It is important to select nasal drops that are safe for infants to use, and even then, only use a tiny bit. But, these drops will help to thin out the nasal secretions, making your baby's nose run like crazy! A tad on the gross side, but this will help to eliminate congestion and help your baby to breathe easier and to find some relief from the cold.
Lay your baby down, and gently tilt their head back (but don't force it). Drop 2-3 drops into each nostril (depending on the kind you buy - always follow the directions). Don't worry if your baby sneezes some out or some drips out of their nose; some of the solution will still have made its way into the nasal passage to provide relief.
8 Nasal Aspirator or Bulb Syringe
This goes hand in hand with the nasal drops or spray. Once you have put some of the saline drops/spray into your baby's nose, use the nasal aspirator to suck out some of the nasal secretions. Yes, you need a strong stomach to do this, as watching the goop come out of your wee baby's nose and into the aspirator can be pretty icky. Who would've thought that much goop can come out of one tiny little button nose?
But, since babies don't know how to blow their nose yet, this is really the only way to get all that congestion out, and the sooner you can get it out, the sooner your baby will breathe easier. So grab an aspirator and start sucking! Your baby will thank you.
7 Vicks BabyRub
Growing up, Vicks VapoRub was the signature smell you'd have if you were fighting a cold. Every parent used it, and every kid felt a mix of disgust and comfort when they smelled that oh-so-strong smell. It meant that they were sick enough to stay home from school and be taken care of by mom, which brings copious amounts of comfort all on its own.
It also meant that pretty soon, they were going to find some breathing relief, once that magic cream was applied. In recent years, it has been determined that some of the ingredients that are used in Vicks VapoRub can irritate and inflame baby's airways, which can make it very difficult for them to breathe. It is not advised to use Vicks VapoRub on babies under 2-years old. However, there is now a Vicks BabyRub that is available, with the soothing smells of rosemary and lavender, and without the ingredients that can be irritating to your baby's breathing. Even just putting a little bit on the soles of their feet and covering them with socks can help to bring some relief.
6 Essential Oils and a Diffuser
Now, this particular idea requires some careful research and thought, as not all essential oils are created equal, and the incorrect use of them can be downright dangerous. However, if used properly, essential oils can help diminish your baby's congestion.
Essential oils have been used for years for aromatherapy and medicinal purposes. As infants are so sensitive to any foreign substances on their skin or in their systems, caution is required when using these. The best way to use essential oils to help your baby would be to put a few drops of safe oils, such as eucalyptus or lavender, in a diffuser. This will allow the smell to permeate through the room without being too overpowering. Eucalyptus can help to reduce congestion in your baby and lavender is known for its calming effects.
5 Disinfectant wipes
These are a must when you have little kids, and especially when you have sick little kids! Use them on all common surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, baby's favorite toys, and any other places where your baby might be. Helping to control the spread of germs can help immensely in getting that cold out of your house once and for all. When baby sneezes and all that spray hits a surface, have one of those disinfectant wipes handy to wipe it all up.
Many wipes come in handy travel packs, so you can always have some with you wherever you go. It is important to consider the use of harsh chemicals around your baby, so choose a brand that uses natural products such as tea tree oil as their main disinfectant ingredient. Again, making your own disinfectant wipes can be an option as well, using ingredients like vinegar, water, lemon juice, and a few drops of essential oil.
4 Baby Washcloths
You might be left wondering why you received so many little tiny soft washcloths at your baby shower. Oh, but you will use all those washcloths and more, once your little one catches their first cold. Keeping clean baby cloths on hand is very helpful, as these can be used for all sorts of situations. If a baby has a runny nose that just won't stop, it can often get irritated by the constant wiping.
Wetting a baby cloth with some warm water and gently wiping their nose can feel less irritating to their sensitive skin. If you are unfortunate enough that your baby is also vomiting, these cloths can help to wipe up any unexpected spit-ups baby might have. Wiping their little hands is also very important, to help keep germs at bay. So, keep a stack of these handy little cloths close by, especially when your baby is battling a cold or flu.
3 Relaxing music
There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to help your baby to feel better when they are sick, and it is easy for parents to get discouraged by it. It is also very hard on baby, who can't express how they're feeling or what is bothering them, other than to cry. Keeping everyone's mood up is important when there is a flu in the house, and relaxing music playing in the background can often do wonders for this.
Babies thrive on music, and many times, it can help to calm them when they are cranky, upset, or just feeling unwell. Keep some classical music handy, or a playlist of quiet nursery rhymes, and have it playing in the background wherever you and baby are hanging out.
2 Soothing cream/Baby massage
There are several gentle creams on the market that contain lavender essential oil, which can help to calm your baby and help them feel more comfortable when they are feeling unwell. For babies older than 6 months, you can also make your own soothing cream by combining coconut oil with a few drops of good quality lavender essential oil. Use either the store-bought cream or your own cream, and give your baby a little gentle massage.
Start at their feet, and just gently massage in small circles all around their feet. Talk or sing quietly to them while you do this, as your voice has amazing soothing effects! Work your way up, continuing to massage in small, gentle circles. Some babies absolutely love baby massages, while others don't enjoy it as much. Use your best judgment and gauge your baby's reaction.
1 Warm bath or steam from the shower
Warm water or steam can do wonders to help unclog your baby's breathing airways and can help to calm their cough. Give your baby a nice, warm bath and get them bundled up in some cozy pajamas afterward, making sure that they're not too hot. Or, run a hot shower in the bathroom for a couple of minutes with the door closed, then bring your baby into the bathroom and stand with them for a few minutes in the steamy room.
Both of these options will help your baby to breathe a little easier by breaking down some of the mucus in their airways. Keep some tissues handy, as the steam will likely make your baby's nose start to run, which is exactly what you want! Get that congestion outta there!